The giant poppies are just breaking into bloom. It always staggers me to see them unfurl their crushed silk petals and stand tall. The sun shines through them, bringing their colour into vibrant glory. The petals are so delicate and fragile, one finger touch and they are bruised, yet they force the hard bud cases to open and release them. I am reminded, once again, that it is not only the visibly forceful who can achieve amazing things. Around them the bees are heady with excitement, buzzing about, pushing aside the trembling black stamens inside as they hunt out the nectar.
The thin line in the background is the electricity cable going up to our neighbour. A few months ago the pigeons took to treating it as their local night club and we watched them sidling up to each other, ducking their heads up and down. Actually the females were very nonchalant, busy examining their feet, and burnishing their feathers sidestepping neatly when the males got too close. Persistent males pursued them the whole way up the line, but the females weren’t bothering to fly away, which they easily could have done if they were genuinely uninterested. Now they are all paired up and digging about in the dry earth of the vegetable garden, looking for food. I have had to net the new shoots to protect them from beaks. I like birds, but not enough to give them my peas.
Shadow lurks darkly in the shade of the blackcurrant bushes. She knows it is only a matter of time before she has pigeon supper. I frown at her, but it is as much in her nature to pounce on supper, as it is in theirs to play on the dancing cable.
The vet has called and the limping lamb has had a reprieve. His damaged elbow is causing him to limp, but it is no worse than that. His appetite is fine, he’s just going to be a limpy loo. He has had a reprieve, and will not be eaten until he’s had a happy childhood and adolescence. By which time he will be worth eating. Now Jo will have to cope with interested parties (of which there are many) telling her in a regular basis that she has a limping sheep.
Jo’s anticipation of being constantly told about the state of her sheep reminds me how often we tell people about themselves.
“You’re wearing new shoes!” There’s an implication that you might not have noticed for yourself.
The one that used to entertain me at school was the number of children who felt that they needed to tell me that I’d had my hair cut. Without thinking about who I was saying it to once, when the 43rd child that day told me I’d had my hair cut I replied, confidentially, that actually I hadn’t, it was just that the water had been particularly hot, and it had shrunk in the wash. This particular boy had a crew cut and I could see him feeling deeply concerned that if his hair shrank in the wash he would end up bald. There was a lot of reassurance to do and explanations of what a joke is. He was only eight and had a tendency to take things rather literally.
I suggested to Jo that to avoid too many helpful advices she write ‘I know’ on the side of the limping lamb instead of the usual number with which we are all familiar.
Awake unusually early this morning I discovered mist, but the kind of mist that is buzzing with promises of warmth to come. With a busy day ahead, Hoover and I were out on the hills long before our usual time and found them bristling with activity. “Don’t usually see you out this early!” “Doing something special?” “Where are you off to?” “Everything alright at home?” I am well known as The Late Dog Walker.
Jo was busy with her sheep – one of her lambs has a frozen elbow and she was penning him and his mother ready for the vet to inspect. Will he be for the chop before he is suitable to become lamb chops?
Another friend, who recently qualified as a teacher, wanted advice about interview techniques for a job. She has to teach a class of 10 year olds a skill in five minutes. I wish I could learn a skill in five minutes. It seems a little harsh, but she has been told she will not get a second over the five minutes. I suggested an expressions game which teaches recognition of emotions. She commiserated on my busy day, and told me it would keep me out of mischief. Hoover ran circles round Mickey who had found a stick to chew. Maybe I should take to this. There is certainly plenty to entertain in the early mornings.
Back at the house men arrive before breakfast with a sofa, more plaster comes off the front wall and I have painting to do before I can return to the 17th century. And the sun is shining brightly.
If you look carefully you will see that this is beyond a four leaf clover. Found this morning on a walk across the hills in celebration of sudden summer, it has put me in high, good humour.
Hoover and I had traipsed about the place revelling in the colours and looking out for deer. Who can spot them first? As long as they are standing still I might have a chance, but, too often, Hoover is prancing ahead and the flash of white under their tails as they turn to run is as good as a starting gun to an athlete.
This morning she smelled them before I had even realised they were a possibility. All I saw was her tail disappearing into the rape. I whistled. I called, cheerily. I shouted crossly. I wished my niece were standing beside me – I have just taught her to wolf whistle, and she tells me she can now do it very loudly. I stamped my foot. I stamped the other foot and shouted angrily. Silence waved across the sea of yellow. Somewhere off to the left a small bird laughed. I stomped upwards to see if the added height would enable me to glimpse any sign of anything, anywhere. And finally caught sight of my black, woolly friend, frisking back towards me from three fields away, tongue hanging out and a glint in her eye.
Over in the valley beyond I found this clover, Hoover snuffling contentedly at my side, all thought of deer abandoned.
You have to be very determined to see the fifth leaf in this photograph, but I promise you it is there, you can see its shadow.
Hoover finds beaches confusing. She loves them, after all they are filled with seagulls who want to play tag. They often have new people with whom she can make friends. Sometimes these people have food with them. She assumes that they have brought it for her and sits very close to them, wagging persuasively.
They are also perfect places for people to throw things, apart from seagulls, for her to chase and bring back.
However, beaches have drawbacks too. The sea behaves erratically; chasing her, when she feels she should be the one who does the chasing. Ones with pebbles crunch her feet. Ones with sand make things taste gritty. But she has perfected a washing technique, dunking sandy stones and balls in water and then daintily picking them up again. Of course this means that they get grittier even more quickly.
And there is always the risk that she might get wet. Heaven forfend! As I said – she finds beaches confusing.
Welcome to my blog.
Here is where I write to you regularly about what it is to be a writer living and working in the depths of Dorset. There are frustrations and delights; more of the latter than the former, I’m glad to say.
You’ll also meet friends and family, Hoover the dog, and instances of weather.