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Saturday, 11 June 2011

Half asleep in polka-dot pyjamas

Six am. 

Through the open window comes a squawking and a cackling and a familiar ringing cry from the hen house. Having lost four of my beloved chicks in recent days, I'm out of bed and doing the chicken-house sprint before you can say foxy-loxy. Barefoot in polka-dot pyjamas and still half-blind with sleep. 

Could it be the buzzard, perhaps? Yesterday I witnessed an extraordinary sight - a jay, howling excitedly, wheeling and turning in pursuit of a massive buzzard - following the contours of Carmine's terraces and out of sight over the lake. Seconds later the jay was back, without the buzzard, and howling victoriously.

I know, it's the fox! I can't remember closing the chicken-house door yesterday, my skirt gripped to my waist and bulging with eggs. Did I? Oh God! I'm prepared for a litter of corpses and a drift of soft baby down.

As I reach them, the cockerel begins to crow an all-clear. In a corner of the prato, under the trees, next to the wood pile, I sense rather than see a massive, majestic red stag. He is motionless for a moment, eyeing up the polka-dot pyjamas. Slowly bowing  his hefty antlers in haughty disapproval, he drifts away into the damp gloom.

I let myself into palazzo pollo, counting as I go. The big guys are easy. One cockerel. Check. Seven fat girls. Check. The flock of youngsters are harder to count as they fly to me from all corners of the enclosure like Trafalgar-Square pigeons to a tourist. Stand still! Okay. Seventeen. Check.

From out of the undergrowth one of the cats stalks angrily and sits herself down to wait with a humph. She's staring at me out of cool green eyes. Still sulking that I evicted her last night and passing judgement on the polka-dot pyjamas.

The netting is down, and I spend a few minutes fixing it back up - adept these days with the wirecutters (who'd have thought?). The chicks surround me, some on perches, some on the ground at my feet. Some try to sit on my shoulders, and I gently brush them away, remembering the several pairs of pearl earrings they've stolen right out of my ears in recent weeks. They're understandably attracted to anything that to them resembles grain.

The out-loud laugh that bubbles up I cut short, with a furtive glance around - am I destined for mad old lady-hood?

As I work I realise my little ones are being more than usually attentive this morning. To my knees. 

I look down. 

It seems they like the polka-dot pyjamas if no-one else does, and if I'm not careful I shall be bare-footing it back to the village with them in tatters and my mad lady status well and truly confirmed...



4 comments:

Vanessa said...

Tom Robbins

LindyLouMac in Italy said...

Brilliantly written and so early in the morning.

Louise | Italy said...

:-)

Karin said...

Ditto what LindyLouMac said!! Loved the Trafalgar-Square pigeons flocking to the tourists - 'cause we observed that ourselves!

Saturday, 11 June 2011

Half asleep in polka-dot pyjamas

Six am. 

Through the open window comes a squawking and a cackling and a familiar ringing cry from the hen house. Having lost four of my beloved chicks in recent days, I'm out of bed and doing the chicken-house sprint before you can say foxy-loxy. Barefoot in polka-dot pyjamas and still half-blind with sleep. 

Could it be the buzzard, perhaps? Yesterday I witnessed an extraordinary sight - a jay, howling excitedly, wheeling and turning in pursuit of a massive buzzard - following the contours of Carmine's terraces and out of sight over the lake. Seconds later the jay was back, without the buzzard, and howling victoriously.

I know, it's the fox! I can't remember closing the chicken-house door yesterday, my skirt gripped to my waist and bulging with eggs. Did I? Oh God! I'm prepared for a litter of corpses and a drift of soft baby down.

As I reach them, the cockerel begins to crow an all-clear. In a corner of the prato, under the trees, next to the wood pile, I sense rather than see a massive, majestic red stag. He is motionless for a moment, eyeing up the polka-dot pyjamas. Slowly bowing  his hefty antlers in haughty disapproval, he drifts away into the damp gloom.

I let myself into palazzo pollo, counting as I go. The big guys are easy. One cockerel. Check. Seven fat girls. Check. The flock of youngsters are harder to count as they fly to me from all corners of the enclosure like Trafalgar-Square pigeons to a tourist. Stand still! Okay. Seventeen. Check.

From out of the undergrowth one of the cats stalks angrily and sits herself down to wait with a humph. She's staring at me out of cool green eyes. Still sulking that I evicted her last night and passing judgement on the polka-dot pyjamas.

The netting is down, and I spend a few minutes fixing it back up - adept these days with the wirecutters (who'd have thought?). The chicks surround me, some on perches, some on the ground at my feet. Some try to sit on my shoulders, and I gently brush them away, remembering the several pairs of pearl earrings they've stolen right out of my ears in recent weeks. They're understandably attracted to anything that to them resembles grain.

The out-loud laugh that bubbles up I cut short, with a furtive glance around - am I destined for mad old lady-hood?

As I work I realise my little ones are being more than usually attentive this morning. To my knees. 

I look down. 

It seems they like the polka-dot pyjamas if no-one else does, and if I'm not careful I shall be bare-footing it back to the village with them in tatters and my mad lady status well and truly confirmed...



4 comments:

Vanessa said...

Tom Robbins

LindyLouMac in Italy said...

Brilliantly written and so early in the morning.

Louise | Italy said...

:-)

Karin said...

Ditto what LindyLouMac said!! Loved the Trafalgar-Square pigeons flocking to the tourists - 'cause we observed that ourselves!