Rabbits, Swedes and Thumbs

I have a new best friend. Still not the same species as me, but an amusing companion nevertheless. It’s a baby rabbit, and he’s so cute, so innocent and so daft, it was impossible not to fall for him immediately. I think it’s the ears that do it: he has ears of such size, you’d think  he was using them to pick up Sky and Canal Plus at the same time. When he turns his back, they look like a gigantic V-sign. Perhaps I’m having en encounter with the reincarnation of Winston Churchill.

Whether he’s been orphaned I don’t know, but he’s taken up home in the woodshed, feeds quite happily off the weed-filled lawn, and polishes off the older lettuce or celery I leave out for him.

Yesterday he encountered the guinea fowl who’s been wandering around the property since last Autumn. Guinea fowl make dinosaurs seem searingly bright by comparison: they have no sense of survival, squawk occasionally like a character out of Little Britain, and generally wobble about suggesting that shooting them might represent a mercy killing.

So when bunny spotted fowl, it was definitely Dumbo meets Mongo. The guinea stood perfectly still, suggesting that in his tiny brain he equated playing statues with being invisible. The rabbit sniffed at him for a few seconds, and then returned to his dandelion leaf. The bird let out a gurgle. It was just like watching CNN.

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The Husqvarna came out for the first time yesterday, started third time (not bad) and so I gave the jungle to the West of the Barn its first trim of the rapidly-emerging Spring. The Sloe hedges are crammed with bright white blossom, and the quince buds are waiting for the first warm day to open up properly. This looks set to be next Saturday, so it looks like the weekend will be devoted to the first mowing marathon.

The Husqy is a powerful little chap, but he has the suspension of a mediaeval cart. I’ve long held the view that there’s something profoundly masochistic about the Swedes; all that jumping straight from the hot tub, rolling around in the snow and then thrashing each other with birch twigs…I mean, it’s just not normal. An hour atop the Husqvarna is enough to do serious damage to your spinal cord. Two hours can relocate the sacroliliac in your eardrum.

But today, it all turned out too good to be true: the Husqy died on me. Perhaps this is Sweden’s way of telling me to slow down and take it easier.

Either way, I have to start making my mind up about what to do with the garden plot aka rubbish dump created by the barn restoration. I’m thinking a lot of gravel and paving stones. They require very little mowing, I find.

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When you think about it, thumbs are funny things. In fact, one doesn’t think about them at all until one of them is injured. Only then is their importance immediately apparent. Guitar picking, doing up buttons, ringing doorbells, sewing, changing gear in a car, undoing zips…the list is endless.

So if, while slicing through the old pool cover with a Stanley knife, you gouge a thumping great crevasse in the top of said thumb, it reduces one’s quality of life to an astonishing degree. The initial dramatic blood-loss is but the overture to a week of going “ow” about every third thing you do.The tip of most digits is active almost all the time, so the healing process that follows the overture is about as engaging as the first two acts of The Electrification of the Soviet Union, an opera so painfully dull I drifted off long before the pylons reached Leningrad in Act III.

This morning I went to turn up a dial on one of the radiators, and it felt like being skinned alive. It’s crazy, isn’t it? Like the root infection that always flares up when you’re in Kazakhstan, and when back in Blighty (after ten days of thumping jack-hammers in the head) the dentist shows you an X-ray of nastiness no bigger than a pinhead.

Tiny things can do us down. One day a microbe may well do for the lot of us. Size isn’t everything.

Yesterday at The Slog: What George Osbollocks would like to have said.