It transpires that Husband was not so enchanted with the miracle of sparrow reproduction as I was. In fact, it turns out he was irritated by the whole noisy, antsy, macho procedure. And it’s true that the cessation of that particular din allowed us to tune in for the first time to the lovely song of the goldfinch. We sought to discourage a second clutch. I took down the part of the washing line that was strung below the nest. ‘Good, you’ve got rid of his advertising platform,’ said Husband, of cock sparrow. ‘He’s been shagging every female in the neighbourhood with the promise of that gaff. It’s not even his.’ A few flowers appeared at the entrance to the nest: Husband’s gentle attempt to dissuade the sparrow. The flowers were soon removed by the bird. Next a twig appeared across the entrance: Husband’s second attempt at dissuasion. This proved a little harder for the sparrow to shift, though not impossible. Husband put it back again.
Then, joy of joys, a pair of red-rumped swallows swooped elegantly into the terrace area, just as I was sitting there. The twig sticking out of the nest served as a perch, the pair of them landing together on it with ineffable grace; the twig didn’t move a millimetre. They are unruffled in the presence of humans – unlike the nervy, what-you-looking-at sparrows – and yet they entirely lack the face to deal with the feathered rivals who have ousted them from their home. If only they weren’t so fey. The tension is rising on our terrace, let me tell you. I thought it was over when the sparrows won out the first time, but it seems that was only the start.
We didn’t replace the twig when the sparrow removed it for the second time. Let nature take its course, even if it’s not the course we want it to take.
The temperature is rising too. The wild flowers are almost completely faded away. In their place on the floral stage, the more showy offerings of jacaranda and oleander. Whereas in January the almonds announced themselves among the otherwise undifferentiated trees with their offerings of pale blossom, now a jacaranda with its fabulous purple ’do stands out among the green globes on a hillside like Molly Parkin suddenly appearing among the ordinary denizens of a small town.
This is coming along, but progress has been hindered by the slowness of the electrical connections. That is to say, we trust the three-phase electricity will be fast once it is complete, but it isn’t there yet. The interior wall went up in a trice. Glass panes were made for the internal window above the door by Norwegian artist Taran Flaten. A visiting friend helped Husband get all the painting done (thanks again, Neil). But the electricity company have delayed throwing the all-important switch. The electrical work went through different stages, certificates were produced and shown, payments were instructed at the bank, and personal appeals – accompanied by passports for ID – were made at the office of the electrical company in town. It seems that the electrical company is in the process of privatising and has divested lots of its responsibilities while still holding overall control. This means that work is done piecemeal by private individuals/companies, then has to be certified by other individuals/companies, then has to pass muster by the original electrical company, and ideally not on a Friday afternoon when they never have a working computer system. But I’m happy to say that the electrical company have now given us the go-ahead. Next thing will be the buying of the oven, then Husband can make more than the half-dozen loaves he currently supplies to friends and for home consumption.