Up close and fairly personal.
You know, I want to thank everyone who takes the time to leave a comment on this blog. A big arm flinging sort of a thank you. Sometimes it can get to feeling like I’m wittering away to myself in a corner. But then someone’ll pop up and suddenly it’s more like a conversation and all is well. So thank you, those what does. Especially those what does regularly.
So anyway and anyway, while the rest of the world is sliding into all that mist and mellow fruitfulness ( please can I come and stay? in about a month? for about three months?), we in the antipodes are enjoying a brief and lovely seasonal interregnum before we hit the glass wall of Summer. When the sun will press the days into flat, metallic discs and the heat will stretch and shimmer as far as the mind can see. Further, even.
I have been getting up close and personal with the beasts of the land recently – and I must tell you, it’s better than a shot of vitamin B, or a night at the disco. It fair plumps up the old membranes with cross-species joy. Indeedy.
At the farm the other week, the weather had started to warm up and so we had the annual procession of the reptiles into the sun. All very stately and solemn it was. Our resident Carpet Python, a very suave McLaddy, staked a place in the purple herbaceous baxon to sun himself. Until, that is, the Herberts and all the birds took great umbrage and wapped him with a crescendo of barking and claxoning until he slithered off in search of a quieter life. (His parents, you know, used to over-winter wrapped around the hot water tank in the roof, until the plumber came across them one day, two pairs of yellow eyes regarding him in the dark. The neighbour was called (we being away), who summarily stuffed them into a hessian sack and dumped them in the Strawberry Field. Whereupon they went off in a state of high dudgeon, never to be seen again. They did, though, leave us their offspring; he of the buttery yellow belly and lazy ways. This is not his picture – he is too camera shy and I am too camera slow, but it is a relative of his.
There were also sightings of the Lace Monitor who has taken up residence under the house and is the cause of great canine clamour every evening, the dogs seeming to believe that obsessive licking of the floorboards will deliver him to them. He emerged one afternoon for a stroll and was promptly chased up a tree by, once again, the Herberts, fearless defenders of the ancestral acres they, whence he stayed for the best part of the afternoon, motionless, pretending to be a branch. At dusk, when I had distracted them, he gingerly inched his way down, only to be mobbed by a parent magpie as he trundled with utter dignity and as fast as his stumpy little legs would carry him until he was only a speck at the far edge of the field. I did photograph him, but the sun was in the lens and he looks nothing more than a very large twig in a very large tree, so here is his cousin who lives somewhere on the internet. You can see how beautiful he is:
There were delights of a somewhat more ambivalent nature when I emerged from the house one afternoon to find two tiny red and green finches sitting on the verandah. I spoke to them politely, as one does, and they seemed to regard me with little surprise or alarm and so I got down at their level and conversed a little more. Their beaks opened and shut, red little beaks, but no sound came and it finally dawned on me that they had flown into the window and stunned themselves. They allowed me to place them in my hand (oh!) and from there I transferred them to a bush for safety (the tireless Herbs being just around the corner, lounging, but not for long). Later they were gone. Flown off to safety. You know that somewhat mawkish sticker ‘Magic Happens’? Well, apparently it doth. In the garden. When you least expect it. And are wearing your scruffiest wellies.
But wait, there is more!
When we arrived we found the dams perilously close to dry and the cows up to their knees in mud, drinking from the puddles still left at the centre. There followed much unhilarity with ancient and new pumps and finally a hose spurting fresh, clean river water was taken up to them. I’ll wager a bet that when you think of water fun, your mind doesn’t turn automatically to frolicking with Belted Galloways in the mud, but I am here to testify that you’re missing out. Afterwards I felt as good as if I’d been to the seaside for a day with old friends. You know, buckets and spades, sandy sammies and feeling sick in the car afterwards. Joy! They’re excellent sports, cows. Gawd love ’em.
Other than that, there was the usual Spring parade of floriferous glories and olfactory delights: