As we work our way south again, Les looks for spots to moor that offer some trees and local wildlife, knowing that I may not see the 11 million people running the rat race in London, but I feel their overwhelming presence all the same as we move ever closer.
|The bridge at Sharpes Lane, Bourne End.|
Les and I spent a week here enjoying the farm across the way, taking walks up the towpath to the Gulf station for a Saturday paper, saying hello to boaters we know like Les and Heidi on WB Blue Pearl, and waving to those we've never met like Graham and Brenda on NB Jannock. We enjoyed four continuous days of sunshine in which spring busted out all over.
Les began the ritual of grinding away the rust spots which have formed on our boat over the winter. We found it necessary to place round cushions in the cabin windows at night now to completely block the light, allowing us the luxury of sleeping in as dawn arrives ever earlier. Spending five days in one place is a radical departure from our usual brisk habit of mooring of two or three days and then moving on. It gives us time to notice the rhythms of local life...
|Gander and goose on guard. Pix's Farm is in the background.|
I woke one mist draped morning to a raucous ruckus just outside our bedroom porthole. The gander was having after a pair of his species who hadn't heard about this stretch of the cut being off limits to anything that moved.
After ruffling their feathers, said male goose was in such a tizzy he flew up on the bank, stretched out his long, black neck, folded his wings behind him, and stalked across the bank hissing and honking at another goose--only to be bought up short when he realized it was his partner. She was not amused.
The next time her mate took off after some intruders she glanced over her shoulders and stalked away to commune in the farmyard with the new goose crew that had just flown in. Her fella returned to his patch to find it, well, abandoned! Calling for his partner, the gander stood looking around, listening for her return call. Nope--nothing; zip, nada. The morning air was still and quiet. The gander dropped into the cut and began swimming slowly up the canal, away from his beloved territory, lamely calling for his best beloved.."Honk....honk......honk." He floated in quiet dejection. Movement caught my eye. I spotted his Missus up on the bank, listening to her partner's lamentable cries. She still didn't give him a nod. Finally when he fell silent, head down, she took off in low flight up the canal and flew right by the gander. He rose out of the water, following. Later that same day they returned to their patch having made up, the male goose a bit more circumspect.
Sitting on the bow of a sunny morning, tea mug in hand, a warm spring wind ruffled my hair and kissed my cheek. I heaved a sigh of delight, stretched my bare toes against the bow and watched as one of the horses on Pix's Farm led a mutiny.
|The fencing in question...|
While this was going down a brown gelding and darker pony stood watching. The gelding too seemed to look off towards the farmhouse for anyone scoping the action. Soon he followed the white mare over the broken fence line with the pony close behind. Eventually the farmer's wife came out, saw the broken fence and spent an interminable time coaxing the horses back to drier pastures.
In the meantime the police showed up on the bridge in front of us, looking for some crook on the lam who had sprinted away down the canal. They shouted out to Les if he has seen a man in Levi's and a black shirt. Nope...shortly thereafter a woman cycled down the towpath and stopped to say she told the coppers she had seen the man in question out of breath further up by the petrol station, talking on his cell phone. The perp managed to escape despite four police cars spending hours going back and forth across the bridge and up and down the lanes. This same guy was spotted several days later sitting on the benches by the pub waiting for the bus!
Not fifteen minutes after the horse break out and the appearance of the police, three CaRT employees showed up in bright green vests. One had a shovel and the other two had large clippers in hand. Apparently a local jogger called CaRT to say her dog had hurt its paw of a piece of rusted barbed wire sticking up out of the ground along the stretch of the towpath just adjacent to our boat. Off they went--Larry, Moe, and Curly--to uncover what turned out to be a twelve foot length of old barbed wire partially submerged in the towpath dirt. A yank on the end and it came loose from the dirt. Job done but it does beg the old joke, "How many CaRT employees does it take to free a bit of wire from the ground?"
|Les in recovery from his morning wildlife alarm.|