Saturday, 20 December 2008

Polish Lowland Sheepdogs and the ageing gardener

For some time I have been wondering where the boyz have been hiding the rubber balls I buy for them to play with. I've searched the gardens high and low,but with the exception of a few well chewed vintage examples they seem to have disappeared. Of late it seems as though I'm buying two new balls every week only to find within a few days that they've vanished into thin air. This morning the explanation presented itself.

When we first moved to the house we hired ( or to be more precise,inherited ) a gentleman of somewhat advanced years by the name of Enrico to help with the upkeep of the garden. He arrives and departs according to some arcane schedule that transcends the seasons and to which he alone is privy (and to which we foreigners will never gain access ).Enrico is also noted for dispensing useful but infuriating comments in thickest Umbrese dialect along the lines of " you'll need to do something about those moles " before racing off up the hill on his tractor not to be seen again until his next unannounced visit. Sometimes he arrives with a bevy of cousins who stand in the courtyard and pontificate on whether the grass should be trimmed this week or next ( next usually wins) and to wonder why the foreigners have done nothing about the moles. Today,Enrico arrived at first light to cut the grass - not usually a task I would have expected in late December,but what do I know about gardening in a climate where the soil alternates from being liquid mud to baked solid clay ?

Anyone who knows Polish Lowland Sheepdogs will know that silence from them usually accompanies nefarious activities such as digging, rolling in mud or retrieving unidentifiable matter from the fields - anything in other words designed to test their families sense of cleanliness and order. This morning Enrico's circumnavigation around the house with the grass strimmer was accomplished in the complete absence of any noise from the pups. Alerted by this unnerving silence to the possibility that the boyz were even then bringing a dead squirrel to the front doorstep , I went out to investigate. There I found the two of them sitting by the fence looking in frustrated silence out into the field. The gardener discovers the balls while he is strimming and throws them to the boyz. As I saw this morning his eyesight / aim is not all that it might be and the throws go sailing over the fence to land in the adjacent fields, tantalisingly out of reach , but within sight and smell of the two totally fixated dogs who view this game as the height of sophistication. A quick examination of the area around the house explains the mystery of the disappearing balls , a large number of which have now been collected and reunited with their two happy, and once again noisey, owners.

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