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Thursday, October 26, 2006

Death and Birth

The problem of living up in the hills on an Atlantic island is that Granny finds herself writing about the weather more than interests her, let alone anyone else. But how not? Weather defines life here. Especially when as now, dead on cue, the autumn storms/rains have arrived. After an idyllic week - hot but not too hot sun, clearish skies, light winds -the wind swung round to the south west on Tuesday and got up. South west winds make it hard to open the front door. They blow dry bourgonvillea blossoms from the creeper which grows above and round it all over the house. South west winds are also the direction from which the autumn storms come. Last year they held off till late November, much to the agitation of the locals, who can't plant till the rains come, a serious business here, and the more so this year - encouraged by the new local markets, perhaps, more fields have been cleared for crops. Granny and Beloved too have a patch of land for planting; or rather Beloved has; he is also muttering darkly about the rains meaning that it'll soon be time to get his goats.

(It's raining outside the window as Granny is writing this. Behind the rain comes the sun. It's that kind of weather. Any time now the hills will start turning green. She and Beloved anxiously tread the house looking for leaks - leaks are the one way of finding out if the flat roof has cracked through the summer; once dried out it can then be fixed. So far only the dining room is affected, the rain pouring through just missing Granny's daughter's beautiful silk hanging. So things could be worse.)

Granny fears she may not be able to avert the goats. She averted the donkey did she not? The Cabildo was offering everyone on the island a donkey for free last month; Beloved did not fall for it. 'I'll wait till I can't drive any more,' he says. (Granny is slightly doubtful if, in this case, he would be safe in charge of a donkey cart either, but never mind,) The goats she fears are another matter. For her, the really serious effect is that she won't any longer be able to use his milking pail to make jam in; a problem; jam kettles are not on sale here. And no, she has no intention of learning to milk a goat. Or making cheese. That's Beloved's job. (Another one.)

It's all livestock at the moment. Although the hunters have been kept at bay this year via forbidding notices, three boys got onto the land on Sunday. Their dog killed the white cockerel, Colin. Granny and Beloved have been eating him ever since (very good he was too, if a trifle tough.) They frightened the life out of the boys by taking their photographs, but won't pursue the matter further. Very young boys, not more than 12 0r 13, they will have sweated for a few days and won't come back, which is the point. Meantime the black cockerel, Damien-Daphne, has taken over the whole harem, chasing hens all round the place, as if he can't believe his luck. Now only he and the bantam cock crow at each other. But that's quite noise enough.

Up on the back terrace meantime the bantam hen, turned broody once more, has been sitting on eggs for several weeks. This time, if they're fertile, there ought to be some chicks. But it's taking a long time. Beloved just walked into the kitchen saying 'I feel as broody as the hen.' Oh, the anxious father; much more anxious than the bantam cockerel who lurks, wifeless, all the while. Granny is beginning to feel a little pessimistic. Maybe the eggs won't hatch. Even if the cockerel doesn't mind the surrogate dad, her Beloved, will. She will have to find some means of distracting him. Bloody goats?

(The gecko which has turned up in the upstairs bathroom - much rarer and more interesting than lizards is sufficient diversion - and livestock - for her to be going on with. But not, she fears, for him.)

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