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Wednesday, 3 January 2007

Can You Hear the Crickets?

This morning after I got up (at ahem 10.00 am - Well ... I was up writing and re-jigging my blog until 4.00 a.m.) I went straight to the swing-seat we got for Christmas and sat there in my 'jamas, dressing gown and bare feet, listening with joy to the crickets. Yes! Crickets. Yes! It was actually a warm and sunny morning. However, I am alarmed at how many signs of autumn there are ... wax-eyes visiting the berries on our cotoneaster bush, ripe plums on the plum trees ... Ripe plums means it's time to make the plum sauce my brothers and sisters all crave. But surely that doesn't normally occur until well after the end of January? The world has gone mad. ABM brought out a cup of tea and sat beside me, but he couldn't hear the crickets at all. He could hear the high-pitched chirp of the sparrows, but nary a cricket's chirp. Selective high-range hearing? What's with that?

I asked S again about the seagulls in Japan and he said that yes, there were seagulls in Japan, but the crows are the front-liners in the battle for food scraps. The seagulls over here in our crow-less land, don't know how good they've got it being the unchallenged kings of the picnic playground and car-park scraps. I think the only other bid that would challenge them would be the magpies, which have gradually worked their way down the country through the decades. In Southland when I was a child, there were no magpies south of Christchurch. It's different now. However, the magpies seem to prefer open country to built-up areas, unlike our friend the seagull.

M was telling us yesterday that the last time he went surfing, a seal came up to him. Seals are a bit of a nuisance to the local surfers as they (not surprisingly) see the black, wetsuit-clad surfers as a threat - another species of seal to challenge perhaps? - and try to upend the surfers by swimming underneath their boards. This time, however, M (almost by instinct he said) spoke sternly to the seal. Much as he would to his dog Jedi if she was being bad. "Hey!" he said eyeballing it and pointing his finger at it,"Cut it out!" And much to his surprise, the seal swam off.

S and I went for a walk along the beach from St Kilda to St Clair tonight. He is away back to Japan tomorrow. I don't want to think about it. It was 8.30 pm and the sun was beginning to get ready to slip away behind pearly cloud. The tide was out. The wind was very cold and brisk in our faces. We talked about how on tv tonight it was mentioned that it was the coldest December in 60 years. S reckons we in NZ should just get used to the fact that we don't really have seasons like they do in the Northern hemisphere. He said it's like turning a switch on or off in Japan - whereas here in NZ, it's more diffuse. He could be right. I believe in listening to the younger generation - perhaps they have a handle on the world that my generation are beginning to lose hold of. Maybe it's all different now. Maybe our summer is more February - March. (I jolly well hope so, otherwise we've missed out altogether this year.)

We walked as far as the posts - the wooden groynes that must be about a hundred years old now. I know I said I wouldn't be posting photos, but seeing as I have on hand a photo of those very posts, I will post it here.

I spent several hours today basking in the sunlight. Like a cat, I followed the sun - first outside on a deckchair, then inside curled up on the couch where the sun poured in through the windows. I read the last of 'Luca Antara'. I didn't want it to end. That's when you know you're reading a good book. I want to talk a little more about it tomorrow, after I have processed it a bit more.

As for my writing. I haven't written anything for a very long time ... I can feel the weight of unwritten material heavy inside my head. After S goes back tomorrow, I'll be able to concentrate a little more. I can hear him packing his bags as I write. It's not particularly a happy sound. Yet it is a sound I am not unhappy to hear. He's living an independent life and consolidating his future. In one of those dichotomies of life; I am glad and I am sad.


Belle said...

Good morning Chiefbiscuit,

I just got back home from a brisk morning walk. Its all frosty but no snow. I had to send a couple e-mails so I came by to see what you have been up to and send my greetings.

I enjoy hearing about life by the seaside in NZ from your perspective.

wendy said...

I see Seagulls here in CO!!Not a ocean coast for a verrrry long way...Even the great Salt Lake is quite a jaunt from here...I always fancy these gull..lost..and a bit ditzy, like me!!

I don't believe you will get "crustier" in the New Year. You are warmth personified.

Your post made me think of the old Beatles song, "I'll Follow the Sun". Surely a great way to start the day!

apprentice said...

Love that shell! I think you're wise about your son.

On the weather, I hope you get your summer soon. Soak up that light while it's there.

We have a new neighbour, an owl in the woods over the road, he quarters the place all night, and is very vocal.

clare said...

So, no crows in NZ? All very interesting, and I liked the detail about the seals. Seals seem to be related to dogs in some way I think - I seem to remember that they get some of the same diseases so I suppose it makes a nice sort of sense that they behave in a similar way too.

Has anyone else noticed that seagulls become quieter as they move in from the sea? Next to the ocean they seem to cry out all the time, but inland I just see them wheeling silently in the wind.

chiefbiscuit said...

belle - So nice to hear abut your day - and somehow it makes me feel better cos at least we aren't getting snow & frost ... so maybe it is summer over here after all.

wendy - that's interesting about the seagulls.
Don't you worry - there's a carefully hidden cynical side to chiefbiscuit which sometimes cannot be contained. Watch out for it ... ;)

apprentice - Yes it's the light that's the difference - the longer days we are enjoying.
Thanks for telling me about the owl - I love owls. I hope he stays with you for a while yet.

clare - Yes! M has also likened seals to dogs, the way they try and herd the surfers out like a dog does sheep.
That's fascinating about gulls getting quieter the farther away from the sea ... maybe Wendy can answer that one for us ...?

NOTE: What a pleasure to read all these interesting comments this morning! :)
Each one of you has let me know a little bit about life at your place. Maybe this is going to be the year of the interesting comments. Yay for that!

Kamsin said...

I almost can hear the crickets your writing is so vivid! And I love that you posted a pic of the posts, they reminded me of those on the beach nr my home back in England!

Tammy said...

Sounds like you has a great holiday and those pictures were awesome. I need to check out your website but look forward to your new change. Enjoy the sounds of nature to drown out the sounds of goodbyes. XXOO

chiefbiscuit said...

kamsin - Glad you liked the photo and that it reminded you of home - but not too much we don't want you getting homesick now!

tammy - I like that about the crickets drowning out the sounds of good-bye ... sounds like it could be in a poem doesn't it?

mcdinzie said...

Your being so brave with S or did you have a wee cry. He seems so grown up these days!

Did you ever see the movie Nemo...the seagulls in that went round saying "mine" "mine" "mine" as their squawk.....and you know what thats it exactly!!!!!

Catherine said...

Yes, the weather is strange this year. There is a maple tree near us that is turning orange. I pulled out a poem on Christmas lilies for Poetry Thursday, and saw that the year I wrote it (January 2004) we were having a drought. Not this year, that's for sure. and of course the day the sun came out was the day I went back to work.
There are quite a few magpies where I walk on the Port Hills. Down at the estuary where I was walking today there were herons and shags, and one pied stilt. It was low tide, I think the seagulls were away across the mudflats.
We certainly don't have seasons here the way they do in a more continental climate, where they actually store their winter clothes away in summer and vice versa. Mine just migrate to the bottom of the drawer, but I would never think of packing them away for six months in case they are needed. Small islands are much more changeable for climate.

chiefbiscuit said...

mcd - Oh I cried all right! (Just a few tears - nothing dramatic so he wasn't embarrassed.) He is now 26 years old so I shouldn't - it's just he's so far away in Japan.

And yes 'mine!' is exactly what the seagulls say!

Catherine - Thanks for the lovely, long and descriptive comment! I can just picture that walk of yours somehow - a very Cantabrian scene.
I am exactly the same re clothes and I guess that is an indication of our 'island climate'.


'how this all harbours light'