Thursday, January 31, 2013

The Smell of Affection: Wet dogs and my neighbourhood.

Kapiti Island lies off our beach. Picture by Jim McIntosh.

That smell is in the air again, sweet and greenstalkish, the residue of the usual neighbours' Saturday afternoon subjugation of Nature, with scything line trimmers and charging raucous mowers.

Selonie is cooking curry. That cloying, pungent sweetness spelling the worst of gas attacks in trench warfare. I look forward to her morning cup of aromatic Gujarati chai though.

Ray's beheaded his captive golden-tressed  damsels of racked roses, their glorious crowns no longer complimenting his terracotta-tiled keep. The best sight and perfumes are last month's siege.

Rudayna, at Unit 10, has already prepared her week's Weightwatchers salad in bulk. That sugary-acid smell of pickled cucumbers hits me. 10 jars covered her table last time I collected the rent.

No 7 is well camouflaged behind rampant 'camo' gear of purple Ake-ake and variegated green and yellow Lemon-wood. I crush a tender leaf and draw in deeply.

5 has trimmed his ranks of eucalypt soldiers to attention. Those volatile oils offer a ketonic nasal assault, clearing any remnant unseen lurkers in my olfactory bunkers.

Lorna, at 3, has tied back her sweet smelling carnations, and put her hollyhocks to the stake. Rampant in colours of white, reds and purples and heady in perfume. Just a whiff gets to me.

Joe is having fresh-picked tomatoes for evening salad. Chives and mint scents waft out his door. I'd add basil and half a chopped chili.

We reach the beach, no exhaust fumes, it's clear of day-invaders with just locals on R and R.  Who wouldn't be, on such a glorious Summer's early evening? Ambushed by pungent smokey-lamb mixed with garlic and rosemary nostril openers, the barbecue is so entrapping. Kids charge from their beach landing-craft in waves, as mum yells like a Beachmaster "It's ready!"

Sand, gritty and chafing in sandalled water-softened feet. Tua Tua and Pipi shells crunching, fragments flicked up and catching between straps, daggering tender skin.

Wave-scalloped, rippled sand patches, and we are walking like giants flattening Namibia's desert dunes. It's a gentle violence though.

Seagulls wheeling, and squealing their alarm above terriers, boxers and mutts chasing nothing in frenzied, unleashed excitement managing to avoid the dive-bombing Stukas' aim. Wet dogs sure smell. How come they always want to jump up on you when they're wet? Or shake the water off and give you a car-wash? Our Lilly is particularly pongy now.  

Salt, seaweed, and decomposing wave-ground detritus aromas mixing like the best Islay single malt nose. The 10 year old Laphroaig, Geoff and I broached last night, will be a consummate pleasure of truce talks after our evening reconnaissance.

We return through reserve land smothered in blackberry and fennel: nothing nicer for apple pie. Blood-red stained hand releases a clutch of juicy Rubus blasted with the overpowering concentrated-coriander smell of squashed vegetable-stinkbug. I wonder if they could flavour Chinese dishes?

In our street, that lingering tangy, sweet cut-grass smell still permeates the evening air, surrounding our patrol's end. It signals the end of conflict now.
It's the smell of love, or the sweet scented signal of caring, the aroma of pride that neighbours have for our beach side community. You hear it first, you see it and then you can smell it.
I surrender to the smell of affection.

For Lilly. 
Our street. Raumati South, New Zealand. Picture by Jim McIntosh.

This little story has sat in unfinished files for too long. I had always wanted to write about our walks, with our dog Lilly, around our neighbourhood.  The evening walks along our beach have always been a simple but immensely enjoyable pleasure for us, more so with a big, smelly mutt for a great enthusiastic companion.
Last Monday on a writing forum, another author posted a topic which spurred me to reply, and I then felt compelled to complete this. I finished it last Tuesday, and uploaded 
it to my writing course blogsite. 
That night Lilly died suddenly. After our glorious evening walk she suffered a twisted stomach, and a late night rush to a vet failed to stop her demise.
The loss makes you realise how much your life can revolve
around a dog. That smell of wet dog is very sadly missed.



Friday, January 18, 2013

Rivers and bridges: knowledge and understanding.

 Chobe waterfront, Botswana. Picture by Jim McIntosh.

There are these rivers that flow wide between us.
There are these oceans of knowledge unknown.
If we could converse would you join with us
replanting the damaging seeds you have sown?

An orangutan mother comforts her baby, dazed at the loss of her jungle homeland, destroyed for palm oil plantations.

It could start as a trickle, like a mountain stream flowing
until understanding is falling like Spring's gentle rain.
There may be chasms and canyons between us
but knowledge spills over like waterfalls of champagne.

 The whaling industry nearly wiped out many whale species. Picture courtesy Norfolk Museum.
It could start when these rivers have bridges across them
and torrents of knowledge flow to the sea.
When you bridge this water we'll show you the ocean
of blood from the slaughter of the disappeared species.

Research advances into unlocking the secrets of animal communication. Some researches say within 5 years we will talk with elephants. When we finally do, will we be able to accept what they will tell us? 

If we could build bridges and walk this land together
we'll show you where beauty and rhythm abounds.
And across these wide rivers, across these wild seas
there'll be no more conflict between man and us beasts.


Monday, January 14, 2013

They killed them all-

How many elephants died so a rich jerk could swank around in this ivory covered car?

They shot them all- the elephant.
How could we be so ignorant?
Just for trinkets of ivory
we destroyed a whole specie.

Elephants in Chad are being wiped out so their ivory can fund weapons. Picture courtesy SOS Elephants of Chad.
They killed them all- the mighty lion
so their bones could rot in wine.
What a weird Asian belief 
rotting bones can bring relief?

They shot them all- the tall giraffe
bows and arrows while they laugh
macho pics decorate Facebook walls
while trophy heads adorn their walls.

They killed them all- the proud leopard

It wasn't all so really hard
Just a poacher's wire snare
and a gin-trap hidden there.

They shot them all - the rhinoceros

now there is no more for us
to admire- now we mourn
all because of their bloody horn!

Photo courtesy Facebook rhino groups.

So they killed them all- the Big Five ( and a few more...)
now no more are alive
They followed the examples set
of leaders plundering our natural assets!

So we now ask the President

why would anyone frequent
Africa so empty and bare
with no more Big Five living there?

We wrote them all- the letters sent

to the esteemed President
We begged his intervention for
how could he completely ignore?