Last year we had an almost endless supply of gooseberries – notwithstanding the birds. This year, things have been a little different. For two or so months (June and July), there were major disruptions in the village and, particularly, past our house. Work on installing the bulk water supply for the low-cost housing development has been underway.
On one level, and for perhaps a day, it was interesting.
When the work began, winter had not struck, and it was warm enough, in the late afternoon, to wander up the hill to see the action and to marvel at the monsters at work.
Dusk is such a lovely time of day, and that day was particularly calm. The light over the leiwater* dam, and over the village, was almost ethereal.
But when we had noise and dust – almost perpetually – for twelve to fourteen hours a day, sometimes six days a week – it did get a bit much. This machine lurked in the road and around our house for about ten days. This from the veranda outside my office and, effectively, the view from my desk.
This beast was really quite quiet; it was the dumpers, tractors and digger-loaders moving backwards (with the perpetual peep, peep, peep) and forwards, and up and down, that really made the noise, accompanied by plumes of dust that found its way into every nook and cranny in the house. Telephone conferences and Skype calls, all part of my day’s work, were quite a challenge.
We were not the only creatures inconvenienced by all of this. Across the road from us is an open piece of land which you can see behind the trench-digging monster. Although it is municipal property, it is largely unbothered and home to wildlife. For whatever reason, it was decided that the earth removed from the trenches for the water pipes was to be dumped and spread there. So now, it looks like this.
Little creatures (and larger, I am sure) have been displaced – their shelter and food – gone. Consequently, three Cape francolins, have become regular visitors to our garden.
But we have been forced to share our gooseberries with them.
They sneak over the road, and over the fence, trot nonchalantly past the beans, for all the world as though we can’t see them, and then dive into the gooseberry bush, with one keeping watch.
And before they leave, they occasionally deign to join us for a breakfast coffee or a sundowner before flying back whence they came.
However, they don’t share and we’ve been a bit short on gooseberries because, my dear, francolins don’t give a damn!
* leiwater – lead water – into the irrigation channels that run through the village