Monthly Archives: March 2013

 

Rob saw a slow-worm crossing the railway track today. Ed, Flo’s long-lost brother, used to bring me slow-worms, slightly chewed but usually alive. They are various colours – not just plain grey, but brown and gold and pewter, even pink. They live in the dry-stone walls behind the mind-your-own-business, All sorts of creatures live in this verdant stuff – voles and mice, lizards and toads.  We’ve had many house crickets this year too – green ones with turned up tails, like scorpions – and larger brown ones. I keep finding them staring at me from the curtains, watching me in the bath. The cats have frustrating times chasing them – the novelty of the leaping escape is beyond them.

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Alfie Azhurradin, named after the Indian cricket captain of the time, has a new bad habit – he doesn’t actually have any good ones – he pees in the bath. He’s the only one of our three cats who uses a litter tray. I keep it just outside the back door  so that he doesn’t even have to get his paws wet in the rain, but he has taken a sudden liking to the bath. He is the most timid of our cats, frightened of his own shadow – he cringes at our reflection in the glass door, flinches at every sound. He leads an exciting life, seeing ghosts, hearing monsters, fearful of anyone on two feet. He’s fine if you are sitting down, he’ll even jump on your lap, but get up and walk and he’ll flee and hide under the bed – or pee in the bath. He disappears on the silver cedar deck. His fur is creamy as seagrass, brown-striped like pitch pine, tawny as an owl. He is like a thrush’s breast, a kestrel’s yellow breast, as if fire smoulders in sooty embers.  I must stop!  I really cannot praise his coat too highly. I do love tabby cats.

Hawke’s Point 2003

Slow-worms and Alfie Azhurradin

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Introduction to Hawke’s Point House

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Rain has come and gone today and left sharks’ teeth hanging from the wooden bench. I climb to the deck built on the stump of the twenty-five metres high Macrocarpa struck by lightning several years ago. That same winter a flood and landslip took seventy tons of earth over the edge; the south-facing roof was stripped of shingles in a force seven southerly, and a glazed roof panel came in on me in a northerly gale. For months I slept with a packed bag next to the bed, terrified that heavy rain would jelly the soil and the house would slip over the edge of the cliff seven metres away, and drop onto the rocks far below.

The sea roars like motorway traffic, constant, booming. Herring gulls pass above, below, at eye level, chuckling, nagging, or silent, in pairs, apart from juveniles or the widowed. The sea floods in below the house, high and fast, jade green, beetroot purple, opalescent, as the waves hit the rocks.

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Light floods the wooden house. From every window is a view of the breathing bay, the long sweep of Porthkidney Sands, with the tussocky towans bordering Hayle Estuary. The edge of the bay is punctuated by the exclamation mark of Godrevy lighthouse, the one that Virginia Woolf wrote about. To the east looms a high cliff of bracken, heather, and hazel, where peregrines nest, buzzards hunt, and fox and badger roam. Gulls follow the map of the cliffs to St Ives, where they will nest, hugger mugger, on roofs gold with lichen.

In one of our remaining pines, this year’s juvenile crow gurgles and squawks as if it is being strangled.

Hawke’s Point 2013

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