The lure of the infinitesimal white dot

An unfortunate brush with a butter burr on the way home from a tramp around the fields recently necessitated some unscheduled canine hair brushing. Lyra must have realised the dreadful consequences of her decision to explore the undergrowth in the little wood almost immediately as, rather than linger chatting to the coos with me at the end of the walk, she legged it, blagged her way past mum into the house and hid in Lachlan’s bed. By the time Lachlan was home I had only managed to get a couple of the blessed things out before she had barricaded herself into her nighttime crate. With two of us on the case we finagled her out and I performed the Giant Haystacks role whilst Lachlan was Teasy Weasy. Her disgust was such that, just as we declared the deburring complete, she shot out of the house past Keith, who was bringing in the shopping, jumped into the Jag and flatly refused to come out for a couple of hours. She sat behind the wheel seething whilst we wheedled from the kitchen door, brandishing treats.

The beginning of calf season and the arrival of Ivor the new bull at the Hirsel have made the striking of the little wood from the approved walk list less irksome. We are up to two calves so far and no walk is complete without a scouring of the ladies field in case of additions. Ivor has been billeted with the yearling lads for now and seems to be settling in well. He has a magnificent New Romantic quiff (early Spandau Ballet) and a classic nose piercing. I am struggling to picture him with Shuna Spurtle (the oldest of our girls) who somehow exudes an air of folded arms and wielded rolling pins. Nonetheless, plans are being laid for a romantic spring break if only the post knocker’s broken ribs heal quickly. (It is a long story…).

The seville oranges we bought from the farm last month turned out so nice we ordered some blood oranges this month and have been breakfasting in fine vampiric style. They were unwaxed and so lovely it seemed sacrilegious not to harvest the post squeeze zest and so on a couple of dull days last week I turned my hand to fancy granola and experimental cakes. I have uploaded the cake recipes for anyone interested. (I should confess though that Keith has declared the chocolate cake “too light” which I did not, hitherto realise was a problem. I now understand my mum’s ire when I declared her rice pudding “too creamy” and lacking in toothsome lumps, unlike Nana’s.)

With cake to work off, despite the lowering drizzle, Lyra and I went the long way around the riverside walk yesterday. Whilst Lyra dabbled I peered at the banks hoping for a sight of the white bird which caught my eye last month, swooping tantalisingly across the water, always settling just a little too far away for a good look. I was in luck. It crossed and recrossed the river ahead of me before settling on the bank upstream. Not a gull I thought, no jagged, broken discus wheeling with the kaffeeklatsch above the stony beach. The bird, as usual, was travelling alone, unfolding into a silent sweep of very long wings, something of the owl in the movement though not in the shape, and flying low above the water. As we walked along I kept a weather eye on the dazzlinngly white spot on the opposite bank. It rose again and settled this time on the path ahead, the bright white of its feathers standing out boldly against the green. It walked along rather daintily, long oval body swaying, a tiny head nodding on a long neck. Geraldine McEwan as Miss Marple I thought, beady, elegant and just very slightly imperious. I have tentatively declared it a little egret. Needless to say it eluded camera range but I include a rather awful picture with a tiny dot of the bird in flight for the record.

The garden is waking up properly now. The bulbs are fast outpacing my weeding (which has slackened pace as I rather detest the hanging damp – I’d much rather be wind blasted) and there are vibrant clumps of hellebores everywhere. One of last year’s crop of random seedlings has grown into a rather fine spotted double. I feel extremely smug and have gathered up a selection of this year’s lucky dips and shall be dotting them in along the back track and in the copse. My seeds have also arrived. The first batch went in a couple of days ago. I have decided to cover them with plastic bags and not water this year (in an unusual “following the instructions” experiment). No sprouts on these yet (unsurprisingly) but I have seen a solitary leaf in the autumn sown primula which were looking to be rather a write off. Hope springs eternal.

4 thoughts on “The lure of the infinitesimal white dot

  1. Oh no, poor Lyra! It’s always amazing how dogs seem to know when they’ve gotten themselves into trouble, isn’t it? And it’s such a struggle to get them to sit still for any kind of grooming or cleaning when they’re feeling upset or uncomfortable. I’m glad to hear that you were able to successfully remove the burrs, but I’m curious – have you found any methods or techniques that work particularly well for getting dogs to cooperate during grooming sessions? It always seems like such a challenge, especially with more sensitive dogs.


    1. It’s a 2 man job. I hold her in a full body hug and my son wields the brush. We send her to a groomer 4 or 5 times a year. Not sure what his approach is – maybe he is more scientific! I have tried singing of the wheels on the buss variety but I can’t say she’s been enthusiastic


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