Thursday, 27 January 2011

Killers and kindnesses

An old rerun of a war film is on the tele;script by William Faulkner; and I am reminded of all the killers hereabouts and even of those in the room.
Sitting quietly;I see Doggum's paw reach out and sensitively touch the little cat's own paw;both animals in repose in front of the fire...
I watched each clawed little 'finger' extend and just softly pat her. It was almost like watching an alien being; intimate and unexpected.The little cat responded; gently patting and then, stretching luxuriously.She is not often so kindly; and will often test her reflexes by sharply scratching his snout from a safe chair; having seduced him by stepping delicately around his big body and tickling him with her tail...
When the siamese cats first arrived; they settled in easily; despite sharing a home with an unruly puppy.
Soon the female revealed herself to be a redoubtable huntress,whom;in one night alone; tucked five mice into the edges of the carpet in the loft; rolling the edges as she went along. I watched her as she taught her larger half brother all she knew.
It wasn't long before they were happily catching and torturing any small mammal they could find; out all night long in an orgy of killing; so much so that the female became ill; having swallowed a small toad;'full of toxins' a friend said. She was feverish and sick for days; looking so anorexic that we thought we should loose her.
We nursed her back to robust and glossy health; and I truly believe she recognised this, and was grateful.
Soon; the hunting season had begun; and the cats were forbidden to go out; looking as they did from afar like rabbit and hare as they ran across the vineyard; the male often racing a hare for pleasure.
One day, Doggum got in to the neighbour's field; chasing renegade goats who had appeared in the lane; staking us out; like inquisitive delinquents.
Before I knew what had happened; Ernest,the donkey had Doggum trapped againsty the fence and was giving him a solid kicking; the poor dog was crying out and whimpering in pain...
I absolutely had to get in to that field and wasted time trying to move the old rusty gate; whilst shouting at Ernest to desist; which he did, a knowing glint in his eye.
Meanwhile the goats; a solitary sheep and then Ernest had legged it to the other side of the valley; and I had fallen over.
By this time; Doggum was near me; his trauma all forgotten;happily eating donkey poo and then getting it in to his mind to follow his'new friends' over the valley.
Eventually he came to my whistle and the promise of a non existant dog biscuit.
Collecting dog kibble in'Decathelon'; one comes across hunters; adolescent boys and older men; a fiery light in thier eyes as they shop for gadgets;day glo vests for fiesty little terriers & hunting horns.
Such bucolic rotund gentlemen are to be seen standing stock still in woodland on misty mornings; as we walk our puppy;who; full of the joys of his young life; flushes pheasants out in vertical take off.
One such pheasant had been strolling past our house for days; eventually being dispatched, ar close range, by a solitary hunter with a very expensive gun and several elgant pedigree hounds. Another man; so excited with blood lust offered us a rabbit'for the pot'with it's side so blown &away that there was no prosoect of roast saddle or civet.
 We are so happy that the occasional red deer who stray in to the meadow have never been seen or discussed.
Our puppy arrived in july; having been born on the first of may'La fĂȘte du travail'.
We had been visiting him as a furry little pancake;full of hopefull licks. He had been presented to us as a Labrador,Border Collie cross; but it soon became evident that his father must have been a wandering Alsatian; and Doggum is still growing.A cup of tea in the sunshine can be accompanied by two heavy paws on my shoulder and a pair of jaws playfully held around my arm;I have to wrestle him to the ground before I can enjoy a slice of cake;and then;  my tea is cold.
He is lovable; and I realised; one summer walk last year; that I had been smiling and laughing for most of the way; quite a change for a re(tired) art teacher from London.

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