Other lives

Yesterday afternoon, I put on a thick jacket and scarf, plunged my hands into the pockets, and walked across to my aunt’s. Walking without a dog has a different texture. Oddly, I feel bolder, more alert, and I walk faster. Polly had slowed down a little in her last year, just a little. Rain, wet grass, or cold asphalt made her drag on the anchor. Our walks had become ruminative. Anyway, I miss her, but she turned up in a dream the other night, happy.

Back to the walk: a couple of young women climbed from their car with bags of groceries, chattering as they went in their gate and up to the front door. A cat ran along the footpath, following them. Suddenly the girls were shouting. The front door slammed shut. Puss reappeared.

In real life, one eye was missing but I don’t want to scare you.

My aunt was out but her trees were singing. She keeps no cat and she puts out seeds and sugar water for the birds. The trees have grown wild and full of shelter. Tuis and bellbirds clacked and chimed and chortled. Finches, waxeyes and sparrows chattered and chirped. I stood for a while as the music rained down. It must have been like this once, here on earth. Not very long ago.

Today I put a wet weetbix on a slice of gib-board on the corner of the deck. A couple of waxeyes made streaking reconnaissance flights directly over it. Within a few minutes the whole whanau were there, scoffing as fast as they could go. When a blackbird dared land on the board, they rose up in a body and threw him off.