Since making themselves at home on Sonsie farm, little that aged wanderers Adelaide and Benny got up to surprised me anymore- and this summer morning, upon waking to the clinking of shovels, and Adelaide’s singing, I did get up to look. From my loft window, I could see them out in a paddock, industriously digging a hole. Digging something up, or burying it?. .mild cacaphony drifted then oer the land. Benny and Adelaide dropped their shovels and legged it into the trees, goats queried, my turkey and her young huddled on the shed roof. Clattring through the gate in an ancient, black London Cab came Alice, Godfrey’s older sister. Alice invited herself every year, on a random date, to celebrate her birthday with me, bringing cake, only for herself, and her latest selection of poems….
PRETTY THE GALAH- From Alice
Oft written in deep thought have I, and sat watching caged birds who perch watching the sky. As they cooed, pecked and quarreled, and merrily ate. Pretty a pink Galah, lived in a shop window, pecked seeds from a sack. But in her bird mind dos she dream a free Egret’s dream, eating bugs that eat bugs that attract other bugs on broad water buffalo’s back?
Young, fledgling crow taken out neath the bus, her flock gathers round cawing, murder! Murder! of crows one of us taken out by a bus!.
I once fed hens spaghetti, like rabble of ladies at a buffet, they gobbled and tugged and chattered as they ate. Yes, I have a soft spot for chickens, and the joy they provide on my plate.
We had a town librarian, I called her “Old Miss Emu”. She had un-kept feathery grey hair, long neck and a manner quite haughty. Miss Emu at my urging, would sneak up on my brother Godfrey, peer over his shoulder, hope to catch him reading something vulgar or naughty.
Learning to hunt prey, a young eagle, catches a steel head trout, it’s scales reflect sun in a rainbow spray. Heavy and awkward, he drops the fish, down, down, into the yard of a child just sent out to play. Twenty Five years later, the young man holds the framed photo, and headline- “Toddler With Catch of The Day.”
And pretty the Galah, in the pet shop window caged, I pass by my work every day.
BARNACLE- From Alice- My dear brother Godfrey, wished return to life as a blade of grass. Not on a lawn, but tussock high on an alpine pass. My self wish to return as an all important barnacle. Rough and sharp on the outside, soft inside. I will cling to stone or piling, at one with storm, and tide and salt sea air. All who meet me will take caution, “Do not step on Alice with your feet bare!”
CURMUDGEON SUMMER- From Alice- In daily tedious task I oft meet, persons seeking shoes, their moist warm feet with ruler measure. Oh, despite my rudeness still they come, bell above the shop door rings, may I help you? I am Alice, a curmudgeon.
In curmudgeon season, summer, feet are bare, most often in the balmy air, I stroll the pleasant sea side strand, stout my pointed stick in hand, and when alone, fancy knock the top off staring passing persons ice-cream cone. I slip garlic in the urns of tea at cafe’s that refuse to serve me- not cake or bun to innocent curmudgeon.
To enjoy a full day off, I recommend stock your shop with mice, listen to the screams and shouting, help your boss down from a box stack, be helpful, gently shoo the mice out the back.
“Picking Others Flowers is a Low Form Of Behavior”, read the sign in the dirt outside a posh office. I pick all that I please, for daisies make me sneeze, on the crowded bus I announce” I feel I have toast crumbs in my blood”, share the wheeze of allergies.
Fair the summer season for The Skibereen Curmudgeon, wander down the airport runway during traffic on a holiday. I delight young and old with my stand selling spiked lemonade, fun for ages eight to eighty, watch them sleep it off in the shade.
On a drive in the country, the road narrows tween stone walls, valley verdant and green. I enjoy the bellow, as a lonely bull calls, he has a wet, snot nose, has been wandering loose since dawn, he is uncouth, and that endears him to this curmudgeon.
The annual church picnic, cheating at Croquet with charmer Nudge Giggleswick, was it cat food? was it tuna fish, the dish I brought talk of the town next day in Skibereen, I may be a curmudgeon in summer- but also a lady, and a lady reveals nothing…..
I must admit, there was an earnestness to Alice’s dreadful poetry. I sent her off with a stamped packet, of her work to send Worzel ,in Canada to read. Peace was restored to Sonsie, at sundown when Alice roared off, shouting back over her shoulder- “Tell those two, dig a proper hole, if you are to dig a hole at all”. Adelaide and Benny had still not returned the next day, but theirs is a whole other story…from Beatrice.