That summer had been so unusually dry that if a dog lifted his leg against a tree and squirted a few yellow drops, the tree would assuredly have rewarded him by rearranging its bark into the optimum position for the dog to scratch his back.
Fires had swept through the coastal bush, leaving swathes of blackened vegetation in their destructive wake and drying the air out still further. All that remained was a narrow strip along the beach.
Early one morning I went for a long run down to the shoreline and thence along the deserted path between two popular beaches, a stretch of about half an hour’s steady running along rocks, heath and the occasional small bog.
About halfway along I detected a movement ahead of me. Wondering if someone I hadn’t noticed had brought a large dog for a walk from the opposite direction, or possibly that a huge dog was exploring on its own, I rounded a bush to come face to face with the quadruped I’d fleetingly glimpsed through the bushes. However, what I saw wasn’t what my eyes expected to see.
It had wiry hair and a ridge of bristles along its back. It had a gleaming and healthy looking pair of tusks, and a paintbrush-like tail. It was a wild boar.
I know without any doubt what Obelix would have done, presented with this unexpected golden opportunity. Giving it a quick klap on the head, he’d have hastily constructed a makeshift spit braai and soon enjoyed a pork brunch on the beach, leaving a token bone for the brave but miniscule Dogmatix.
Not being Obelix however, a host of thoughts chased one another within a split second within my mind, conflicting messages almost causing a short circuit within the cells.
I could see the same quick thought processes fighting for dominance in the boar’s mind as it continued to look me in the eye.
Choosing caution and thinking how I would prefer not to run back home with a gaping red hole in my gut, I chose flight. With a wimpish yelp I dashed onto the rocks against the ocean, leaving the boar in peace to ruminate on its strange encounter on the beach.
What a wonderful photo it would have if a camera had accompanied me on my run. Especially had the breakfast-seeking boar chosen confrontation by charging the takkied territorial trespasser. After all, his usual hunting grounds had been ravaged by fire, causing his usual prey to flee or be cremated.
I often wonder what would have occurred had I stood my ground. Would it have turned away from this sweaty human crossing its path, or decided to meet the challenge head on in more ways than one?
Unlike our ancient friend Obelix, I wouldn’t have harmed him. Being a conservationist and frequent vegetarian, I’d have attempted a closer look at the world from his POV.
And so yet another tiny puzzle piece in the multiverse of a quintillion chances experiences a split on that distant timeline as the porcine browser and the crazy runner go their separate ways, never to meet again.