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Monday, 3 June 2013

Balloons, snakes and scarecrows

the white tree peony now in full bloom
 Today has been a surreal sort of day and we're only half way through it. It started with Pocket(quarter Bengal) hiding up in a tree eying a young grass snake which was warming up on the grass. It is a thrill to see a grass snake as they have been in decline as well as most of the British wildlife over the years and I very rarely see one. Pocket looked like a little lion and he roared out of uncertainty and hunger. He had already left me an Amuse Bouche in the shape of a small rodent this morning and I was glad when the snake wriggled off before Pocket could dispatch it and leave it next to the rodent by my bed.
Pocket(quarter Bengal) watching the snake
 Then on our walk we saw a huge bunch of blue balloons tethered in the middle of the wheat field. They must have got caught on the wheat and they bobbed jauntily at the end of their ribbons. They looked so strange and Pixie went berserk, barking loudly and running around with her tail held high and her legs prancing as if she were a show pony. I've no idea what she thought they were. Perhaps she was expecting a belated birthday party or she recognised them as having materialised from outer space. She certainly helped to create a crop circle the number of times she ran around them.. I've never seen her move so beautifully and am sure she could have done well at Crufts if there were balloons around. Our first wolfhound Jai, won Top Bitch at the village dog show. I considered having a T shirt made with that on it but didn't think it would go down well with the other women who live around here.
Pixie wanting to check out the balloons

 Then when we got back there was a dead scarecrow lying in the road by our gate.

I'm going to sing the praises of Salix Britzensis now. It is the most fantastic tree if allowed to grow on a single stem and is pollarded in March to preserve the colour. In the winter the stems look as if they are on fire and when you cut them back they are really useful for weaving structures around plants to either hold them up or protect them from pecking, bothersome, naughty ducks. In the summer they grow mop heads like a child's drawing of a tree. I highly recommend them.

Salix britzensis with its winter colour

Salix Britzensis in the summer

useful for making structures

the dead scarecrow

 And talking of those ducks I have left them be. They all seem happy in their own company.

the naughty ducks in harmony

With Pocket's antics in mind this poem by Pablo Neruda seemed most appropriate.

The Lion

A great lion came from the distances,
it was huge as silence is,
it was thirsty, it was after blood,
and behind its posturing
it had fire, as a house has,
it burned like Osorno.

It found only solitude,
it roared, out of uncertainty and hunger -
the only thing to eat was air,
the wild foam of the coast,
frozen sea lettuces,
air the colour of birds,
unacceptable nourishment.

Wistful lion from another planet,
cast up by the high tide
on the rocky coast of Isla Negra,
the salty archipelago,
with nothing more than an empty maw,
claws that were idle
and a tail like a feather duster.

It was well aware of the foolishness
of its aggressive appearance
and with the passing of years
it wrinkled up in shame.
Its timidity led it on
to worse displays of arrogance
and it went on ageing like one
of the lions in the Plaza,
it slowly turned into an ornament
for a portico or a garden,
to the point of hiding its sad forehead,
fixing its eyes on the rain
and keeping still to wait for 
the grey juice of stone,
its geological hour.

Pablo Neruda

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