Walking lake near perfection

February 23, 2018

John Lewis enjoys the peaceful and vibrant surroundings of walking around Victoria Park Lake with his dog.

When the leader of the free world says it is time to arm teachers, it is time to take your dog out for a long walk.

Dog walking is a good way to sort out the real lunatics from the pretenders and to set your own rhythm in this crazy jazz world.

For the first time in many years I have taken to walking Prince Finski on a lead because his wild crashing through the bush during summer has emptied my wallet and my patience with grass seeds.

Aesop was right — the tiniest of things can fell the mightiest of creatures.

Last month, I paid the price of a decent bottle of 1973 Spatleseburger to have more than 100 of the little blighters pulled from Finski’s skin and then spent the next month ramming my fingers down his throat to feed him anti-biotic pills that he slyly spat into the spaces between the verandah slats.

It was a lesson for both of us.

Settle down, grow up, act civilized and do what everyone else does in public — walk politely around in circles and smile.

So, I piled him in the rear of my station wagon and drove to Victoria Park Lake, where I put the lead on him and opened the rear hatch.

He leapt out of the car and dragged me over to the nearest marking spot, which happened to be a small tired-looking bush — obviously the spot for every desperate dog launched out of a car at the lake.

I was prepared for a long shoulder-wrenching 2.5km trot around the lake.

But remarkably, he settled down after the first 25 sniff spots and we found a relaxing rhythm.

In the great petrol-driven rush of things, I had never really considered just how beautiful the lake is these days.

I think the last time I travelled its shores I was being dragged by a toddler.

Twenty years later I was being dragged again, this time more urgently, but somehow it felt more relaxing.

People smiled, children asked for a pat, and runners flashed past, shoes crunching the path.

Others sat out on the boardwalks extending over the water to fish or just dangle legs.

Moorhens darted in and out of the reeds and ducks lined up on the concrete edge only to dive in with a flurry as we walked past.

The place is a snapshot of Shepparton on any one day — teams of bird spotters with badges, binoculars and notebooks, giggling schoolchildren in hi-vis vests, ball throwers and sun dozers.

Last week I walked through an African wedding party dressed in white, black and red. I thought I was in a Hollywood film.

The day before I was slapped on the back by my Sikh friend Dhami on his afternoon run.

On a still, blue day the lake really is a sanctuary for those who want to celebrate and play together or find some space and time to themselves.

It’s even got dog poo bins with free disposable bags for potentially embarrassing moments.

Now that is future planning for dreamers.

Perfect — or about as close it gets.

John Lewis is chief of staff at The News.

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