Monday, March 06, 2017
See the child, hanging out with her best friend in the shade on a hot afternoon. The shade from the acacia tree we planted just 3 years ago - when it just reached the top of the fence.
See the exposed concrete banks and the weed in the lake - the mouth is open and the water is low. See the reflection though, it is summer but it is still - a rare gift.
Now see in the top right corner, that green grassy gap between the houses opposite. This post is about that gap.
They're all over the place here, little green spaces which allow access to the water - so that this is not just the privilege of us lucky few who live beside it. People launch canoes from them, feed ducks and dip toes, lovers canoodle and dogs tear around, and when you live opposite one as we do, you get to spy on them all.
It's a funny little blank space, always smaller when we've walked over there than we've imagined. It's a little stage if you will, and all the world are players on it.
Dog walkers appear stage left - and march across stopping, or not stopping, to pick up their dog's poo.
There are two cats who regularly frolic and hunt there. An enormous malevolent ginger (he hunts) and a slim Siamese who looks from here like she's wearing little white sneakers (she frolics).
We once watched a Jackal Buzzard alight there with its lunch, dismembering it elegantly until a postman on his bicycle disturbed it and it packed off elsewhere to finish the meal. We walked over later and found a neat pile of gizzards and some feathers.
Some naughty kids once appeared - throwing stones at the water birds and trying to scale a neighbouring wall - I yelled at them and their laughter carried across the water back at me.
We once saw a black fox. Or thought we did until binoculars revealed it was a well-known local dog, with a new and very distinctive haircut.
A few weeks back a pram was parked there, in the shade but seemingly alone. Unable to stifle their curiosity, Frieda and friends swam over to inspect. We watched them approach it with some caution, until they turned back to us and shrugged - it was empty. Later it was gone.
Sometimes at night a torch beam swings to and fro over there, shielding the carrier and revealing nothing but our deep-seated neurosis about mysteries in the night.
There are boys who play cricket. The thud of ball meets bat and accompanying cheers or groans float across to us.
There was an otter on a stormy winter afternoon. Right up out of the water, loping along the bank in the driving rain.
And on the weekend there was a puppy. And then another, and another, and another - a whole line of puppies, TEN puppies! Ten puppies gamboling and tumbling in the green gap across the lake.
Often times, most times, the gap is empty. Maybe a lone hadeda pecking at the ground. Maybe something unidentifiable which requires finding the binocs and confirming that it is, indeed, a felled branch or bit of litter. But mostly empty.
Until it isn't and some small tableau unfolds before us. It's always worth keeping an eye on that gap.