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Spanish Secrets: The Call Of Nature

"...she jumps to her feet, ears pricked and tail wagging furiously. With no less enthusiasm than an excited child opening presents at Christmas, she bounds to the glass patio doors, slipping and sliding on the hard polished surface of the dining room tiles...'' CRAIG BRIGGS takes his dog Jazz for a walk in the quiet of a Galician evening, to the accompaniment of chirping cicadas and a chorus of croaking frogs.

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Another day of our Spanish adventure draws to a close. Retiring from the back porch, I walk through the kitchen and into the dining room. Stopping briefly, I glance at our dog Jazz, who is lying on the floor. Without moving from the comfort of her paw-patterned bed, she raises her big brown eyes, waiting for the magical command.

“Cum’on then!''

Like the release of a coiled spring she jumps to her feet, ears pricked and tail wagging furiously. With no less enthusiasm than an excited child opening presents at Christmas, she bounds to the glass patio doors, slipping and sliding on the hard polished surface of the dining room tiles, like the scene on the frozen lake from Disney’s Bambi.

Every night those three magical words, invoke this same excited response and comical reaction.

As Jazz waits patiently with her nose pressed hard against the join between the two patio doors, I notice a large lime-green insect clinging to the exterior pane. A closer inspection reveals the meditative figure of a praying mantis. Its humble posture, with forelegs resembling a praying monk, belies its carnivorous intentions.

I open the door carefully to avoid the entry of this patient reaper. Jazz darts out through the narrow opening. She sprints to the garden gates in a frenzy of uncontrollable excitement. With her nose squeezed between the vertically barred gates she sniffs furiously.

Closing the door, I stroll across the drive towards the gates. Jazz has caught the scent of something in the air. She springs to the top of the garden, places her front paws on the wall and, sniffing profusely, peers into the darkness.

Before I reach the gates she has returned, iImpatiently waiting, staring spellbound, whining with expectant excitement. As the gates spring open Jazz bolts off up the lane, vanishing into the distance. Slowly I wander after her, listening to the night sounds.

The constant chirping of cicadas echoes in the darkness. Overlapping these hypnotic rhythms is a chorus of croaking frogs. Fading in, then out again as they pass overhead, is the unmistakable intermittent whistle of two or three low flying ducks. This is closely followed by the splash of a night-time landing and a quack of satisfaction.

The night-sky is clear and the stars glisten like diamonds on a black velvet gown. With summer drawing to a close I’ll soon be welcoming the arrival of Orion. Highlighted by his jewelled belt, he stands as an astral guard at the head of the lane, sword at the ready. Further in the western sky, the Plough has toiled all summer long, twisting and dipping as if making furrows in the night-sky.

With nature’s duties complete, Jazz begins her nocturnal patrol. Her nose, positioned less than an inch from the ground, ears pricked and tail bent high. She roves this way and that, stopping occasionally for a serious nasal investigation.

Whilst those uninitiated to her performance might be impressed, I seriously doubt her ability to find a skunk in a vacant village hall.

With our walk complete we turn and head back down the lane, guided by the moon and our illuminated home, not forgetting to wish a good-night to the circling bat as we re-enter the gates.

email address
craigandmel@msn.com

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