The blue sky and sun has appeared today after several days of struggling under smoke haze from the last round of bush fires. Whilst it was good to see the sun pushed behind a blanket of gasping smog it was not much relief for anyone who was in search of something other than recycled air. Having survived days of humidity and the heat we were relieved to hit the off button on the dual system and throw open a window. However feeling like we'd moved next door to a smokehouse only without the chicory and salmon the window was firmly shut again and the air conditioner cranked up one more time. After a while you begin to become a bit misty eyed over the thought of cool nights, red wine and fire places and start cutting out recipes for roasts and the slow cooked. And whilst it was great to have our own home grown lettuces this year, when you've exhausted the repertoire of salads over again and you are heading towards Lettuce Surprise, it's time to look to Autumn. The new season's fashions are already in the stores which in some cases just look like the summer fashions with the sleeves left in and department stores have Easter Egg displays well under way. I used to think that as you got older it seemed that time went by more quickly but retailers should take some of the blame. Supermarkets seem keen to merge our seasons into one and only a matter of time before Back to School lunchboxes come with Valentine's day chocolates, a Hot Cross Bun and Christmas Cake to really confuse the next generation. Let's just get through summer first.
I hurled myself out of bed this morning following a sense that someone was staring at me. A cold nose and a quiet whimper was enough to get me moving. Not like his brother Max who is known to leap at the window, swing from the blinds, claw at the carpet or poke you in the eye to get you up and about in the morning, Number One Son sits and stares. He didn't get a walk yesterday. I felt bad. Guilty in fact. The benefit of having a dog is that you are forced to get outside more than you would normally. I wouldn't walk to the beach as often as I do, I wouldn't bother so much with the local community park and I would sit inside the coffee shop instead of watching the world and his dog walk past from outdoor seating. You chat more with the locals particularly if they have a dog. The conversations are largely the same but it's comfortable pleasantries until they've passed out of earshot and you mutter something about lack of training and a need to go to doggie school. Dogs don't have time for pleasantries too many dogs and too many smells. "Hi there. I'm Best in Class. Hi I'm Best in Class. Hi I'm...gotta go, bye".
Even the smallest of holiday breaks away from home are tinged with guilt when four legged family members are part of the equation. They partake in their own holiday adventures at the local pet penitentiary sporting identification tags and adhering to a new regime. Number One Son will enjoy scheduled play times with other dogs and lose the hours in developing new friends and bad habits. For cats though it's a different story. More maximum security in cell block C than fun times around the scratching post. From Max's costly Presidential Suite with flat screen TV, viewing platform and paid time for 'additional cuddles' he'll look out on his fellow captives and the other less pampered varieties. With the cell doors all looking out onto a central community room exercise time will divide the breeds between the adventurous and the advantaged with the odd snarly scuffle over a designer blanket or two. They'll eat the same food and have lights out when they are told as the time incarcerated will seem like an eternity. But before long there will be some familiar faces at the reception with carry cases in hand to welcome them back into civilization. To Max's disappointment there will be no paparazzi waiting outside and no one will want to interview him to tell his story. But he will be happy to be home.
Having to share a small suburban courtyard with an expanding rat family was never going to be a long term option. With safety in numbers they were no match for our resident pampered Laura Ashley blanket enthusiast. Later in the evening yesterday, my husband planted some incentives that would eliminate the overcrowding of our trellised back fence. With bates strategically placed and some even nailed we provided a night of both eat in and takeaway last meals. Being surrounded by feline neighbours on almost all sides one would think that our rodent travellers would set up camp elsewhere. Being mostly night time dwellers they have played on our favourable treatment of suburban wildlife which forces moggies indoors and gives the backyard key to the rats. So while Snuggles snuggles down for another night watching Better Homes and Gardens the vermin population have backed up the removal truck and moved in. Just don't get too comfortable rats, there is food to die for coming your way soon.
Another baking hot day as the tomatoes break through their netted ceiling waving about in the drying north wind. Along the back fence the last of the remaining ivy clings on unaffected by overbearing sunshine even though its trunk and roots have been worked on with a high powered rotating blade and enough lethal poison to attract Miss Marple. It's become home to a family of rodents, either just moved in or are the last remaining tribe left following its deforestation. Around 5pm each night there appears to be a role call and a procession of tails swaggering along the fence top Von Trapp family style but without the homemade clothes. Number One Son has sniffed them out but considers their home out of reach and Max adopts a Buddhist philosophy to anything more challenging than a toy on a string. Summer days are wearing out their welcome and the barmy nights have the door shut in their face with the full force of air conditioning. Enough already. Holidays over.