mercredi 7 juillet 2010

The country life for me

The koi finds a friend

Please, don't tell it that it's its own self; I haven't let on yet.

Koi, like goldfish, are highly sociable creatures and don't like being alone in their own pond in quarantine very much, although this one seems to be starting to get used to the fact and the new rhythm of life, including 30 minute to one hour Nifrupirinol bath treatments in the afternoon. We are staving off the Ziploc bag in the freezer option as long as we can continue to give the antibiotics I can get in the store and the sea-salt regime a chance of working. It isn't eating anymore, aside from the perhaps accidental ingestion of a koi stick the day before yesterday, when I put it in the clear salad bowl of Nifurpirinol solution for the first time, which isn't so great a sign.

Neither were the enlarged blood vessels around its right eye yesterday. They don't look much worse, and possibly a little better today.

Word must be getting out, however, that I am something of an animal recovery and treatment center because the neighbor turned up at the gate with her 3-year-old and her 5-year-old niece in tow earlier than I expected them to come for a swim.

"Ah, on a eu un changement du programme?" I called from where I was peering into the quarantine basin. They were to have taken a postprandial nap before coming for a tea time swim.

"Non, on a trouvé un bébé crapeau dans le bac à sable, et on a pensé l'amener ici."

Why, merci beaucoup!

In short, they found a baby toad cowering in a corner of the sandbox, and they thought they'd bring it to me. Well, as it happens, I have a toad house or two available, with piscine, in the border. I invited them in through the gate, and led the girls, followed by my neighbor, to the very spot, an empty orange juice bottle filled with water for the toad pool in hand. This, I handed to her small daughter, standing next to me in her ruffle-bottom swimsuit, and asked if she would like to fill the toad pool herself before we released the bébé crapeau into it.

She began to show advanced stages of doubt and trepidation, standing there clutching the one liter -- plus 15cl gratuit! -- orange juice bottle against her bare belly, eyebrows drawing together and lowering several centimeters as her lower lip protruded worrisomely, and then quivered. She cast her glance demurely down to the right and refused all further action or offer of assistance.

"Tu veux que je le fais moi?" I asked, certain of failure. She raised her eyes and their brows a millimeter in my direction, and I detected the faintest nod. Oui. "D'accord, je le ferai." I reached for the bottle, which she released, and poured it carefully into the dish. I pointed to the clay flower pots, decorated with stones and sunk into the dirt on their sides below the yew tree. Chez Eugénie G, half-way house to toads not inclined to stick around.

"Ca c'est l'une des maisons. L'autre," I pointed to where the second one was, behind a hosta, "est là." She nodded, her blond hair drawn up into a ponytail leaving wisps of honey colored hair along her brow and round cheeks. Her mother smiled, amused by the seriousness of the event, and handed me the sandbox toys that contained the small toad. I opened them carefully to reveal a bébé crapeau, standing on its hind legs, eager to find la sortie. I lowered it to the dish and it hopped directly into the shallow water and on past it to crouch at the base of the Falstaff rose and clematis ('Niobe'?).

"Tu le vois, Lili?" asked her mother, as the older cousin looked on, silently. She nodded.

"Il y a quelque chose d'autre de l'autre côté," said Lili, her nickname. I peered, trying to understand to which of the many things possible she might most likely be referring. The holly berries, an eye-catching shade of a dusty violet-blue, seemed most likely. She pointed toward them. "Les choses bleues," said Lili. The holly berries. I reached and broke a bunch off.

"Ce sont les fruits du houx," I told her.

"Ca ne se mange pas," added her mother. No, I confirmed, we don't eat them. They would taste very bitter and give us a stomach ache. Of course, I am not sure of that, but it works with preschoolers.

"Ils sont les graines de la plante," I explained, "pour que le houx puisse en faire d'autres houx." The girls nodded together, ready for lycée. "Tu veux les prendre?" I asked the older one, who reached out and took the little bunch of violet-blue fruits. "Ils ne te feront pas de mal si tu ne les manges pas."

I briefly considered a job as a teacher, or a gouvernante for a wealthy family with vast gardens, and exceedingly well-behaved children, interested in nature, literature and foreign languages, art and alpine sports. Perhaps yoga in the shrubbery.

We looked at the frogs in the bassin, and I accompanied them to the gate to go home for their nap so they could come back and enjoy our pool.

Ah, the joys of country village living, such as they are. Second only to the joys of marriage and your child being "admis" by the Académie pour son Bac.

Time to go remove the pool summer cover and vacuum it.

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