WALKING AGAINST THE WIND
The wind is always most harsh near the beach, even in summer.
On a late winter morning, it carries a whiff of rain and a promise of Spring.
Crouched near a colourless, salt-stained railing, George Wall is bundled up in winter clothing. He huddles with Jesse, a brown and black mutt with a shy disposition.
Pets aren’t permitted where George lives; he borrows his son’s dog.
“I’ve been walking this beach three years now.” Man and dog walk this Port aux Basques beach every day, regardless of weather.
George watches Jesse run off ahead to play.
In one hand he carries a sturdy branch wrapped with white string; a make-shift walking stick.
“I take that with me in case I slip. I’ve got a bad back all the time, eh?”
Injured 15 years ago trying to lift a car that was stuck.
Then the time he swerved his car to avoid a head-on collision.
“I got my teeth all drove back.”
The worst was the motorcycle accident. Sideswiped by another vehicle. Pitched in a treelined ditch filled with boulders. Broke his collarbone and ribs.
“I could see my boots come off.”
He chuckles about it now.
Wounds healed. He continued riding.
But the injuries added up.
The walking helps his back and his breathing, which he’s struggled with as a result of the accidents.
Then there’s Jesse. The dog loves the daily walks; doesn’t like going back home.
“He doesn’t want to get out of the car.”
The trail is hard in winter. Sea spray laces the gravel path with ice.
But they don’t hesitate.
Jesse stops running long enough to look back and check for his friend.
George waves him on, hunching into the wind, following along in his own time, picking his way carefully with his trusty stick.
“I’ve been walking this beach three years now,” says George Wall.