By “The Photographer’s Assistant”
The Photographer and the Assistant are having a well deserved rest in the lower garden, where all the hard work is taking place. The dog is keeping a weary look out for any wild or human interlopers. The tea has been raised to the lips. The scones are to hand. Peace reigns supreme. In the distance there is a chatter of a tractor engine. Actually, the tractor is quite close and the roar of the engine is very loud. Over the fence, there is a field, which is being used for grazing amongst the farmer’s young girls (heifers). The cows are very excited. The two of us and the cows are expecting the farmer to arrive with cake, but he doesn’t have any cattle cake. He just has fertiliser to spread. The cows go mad. They gang up on the tractor and chase it around the field, mooing and creating a sort of mayhem. At one point the tractor can’t be seen for cows! We are stupid with observation, even the dog is up watching. These cows could take part in the Olympics. They are such good runners. The tractor disappears over the hill, and with it the cows. All is still. Everyone has gone out of sight. The tea is cold and the drama has gone. One or two of the cows are very disgruntled and we can here them moaning on and off for a few hours after.
Of course, it is enormously entertaining having cows over the fence. These young cows are frisky and great characters, and really if he cared to admit, the farmer is very fond of them and we sense that they are a little spoilt! The dog, being used to tranquillity and dignity in his old age, always considers their arrival as a watch dog chore that he could do without. By the end of their stay in the field his geriatric nerves are stretched to breaking point. It is generally believed by the local population that the dog had a bit of a run in with a very large cow some years ago and has never forgotten in indignity of it. He would not go near anything in a field to save his life. However, here we have a large protective fence and as the cows appear over the hill, the dog starts shouting, “COWS COWS. LOOK COWS! YOUR’E ALL BLOODY DEAF! YOU TWO ARE EVEN MORE GERIATRIC THAN ME. WHAT HAVE I GOT TO DO TO MAKE YOU LISTEN,” and so on. Even the neighbours have lost interest in this hysteria, but the cows haven’t. If you think about it, cows lead pretty boring life, so observing a geriatric dog over the fence is pretty entertaining. All the cows now assemble and look down on the dog benignly and curiously. They are all within a metre or so of the dog’s nose and seem concerned at his distress. One of them moos soothingly in a motherly sort of way. Eventually, all the parties get bored and move on. The dog has a soak and a drink from the stream to sooth his troubled nerves and that’s the end of it. We have spoken to the dog about it, but quite frankly , he is now so deaf, he just doesn’t get it.
In the top garden, where the bird feeders are, the birds are indulging in a sort of madness of their own. All the food is out for the nesting season. There are fat balls, dried worms, seed and peanuts, a lot of it provided by our eldest daughter, who is convinced that they will eat us out of house and home, and they would have by now, if she hadn’t delivered a huge bag of seed early in the season. We must have every type of bird that you can expect in a small garden and they are all competing even though there is a large supply of food. The woodpecker is wonderfully colourful, but completely mad. The peanut feeder is attached to a rose arch. The woodpecker uses the arch for two purposes, one to feed in the most precarious manner possible, and one to slide in a very careful way, up the structure in order to see if there is anyone he can have a row with or who is going to attack him, the later being very unlikely. The nuthatch must have a large family, because he has spent all day eating and flying off with seed. We used to be quite fond of him, but as he shoves another small bird to one side, we recognise a great bully. That might be what naturalists should call him. I’d love to hear Chris Packham on Spring Watch say how lucky we all were to be admiring a picture of THE GREAT BULLY rather than giving it its current over dignified title.
Out and about, whilst taking breakfast at the little town’s deli last week, we were approached by a well known town dweller. She had been packing up, ready to attend a family wedding and the thought of a wedding had put her in mind of one of The Assistant’s poems, which the Assistant had quite forgotten, as it was written some years ago. This lady had an old copy of the poem called Newspaper Wrapped and had been enjoying reading it again. The Assistant was quite thrilled that anyone should be so touched by something she had written and looking at the poem again thought that it represented everything that was so typical of the people who live, and sometimes, struggle in the little town. The poem is about a man returning from his allotment at the end of a hard days work, bringing a tribute to his much loved partner. The poem goes like this :
I have brought you
Newspaper wrapped flowers
Of cellophane and bows
For I have
Long known your face