Friday, March 7, 2014

Dr. Doolittle, That's Me

Of course, unlike that famous vet, we really can't understand each other.  Or atleast, I can't understand what they say.  I guess I shouldn't speak for them. :)

Yesterday we moved from Alrewas back to Fradley Junction on our way to Great Haywood and the Four County Circle Route that we couldn't take earlier because of lock closures.  On our way down the canal to Alrewas I had a local white goose who stood with me, rather close in fact without any sign of fear, and conversed as I worked one of the locks.  Yesterday, he or she was back and still as talkative as before.  The gossip of the neighborhood.

But then you have the moorhens, timid little creatures that live in the undergrowth along the canal.  As soon as then see you coming they head straight for cover until you pass and the all clear has sounded.  And, unlike most over water fowl, they seem to live a basically solitary life.  We have never seen them paired up or in groups.  They like to go it alone.

The ducks are definitely social creatures. You will see them in pairs, trios or larger groups swimming up and down the canal or up on the bank with their necks twisted and their heads tucked under a wing napping.  (I wish I was that limber but if I could twist my neck that way it would probably indicate that I was possessed like that poor girl in the movie whose name I cannot remember. :(
Most of the ducks are skittish and as you approach they will one at a time slip back into the water, sort of like a synchronized swimming routine.  But some are made of sterner stuff and as long as you don't come any closer they will hold their ground as you pass.
I am especially drawn to the females, the petite little girls.  They are the ones I talk to the most but I also talk to the papa ducks so as not to make them feel left out, promise.

The swans are the royalty of the canals, regally floating along all serene.  They understand this people and narrow boat situation quite well:  From  there comes food.  And, if they are slow to hand out the goodies, tap on the windows to remind them and don't stop until they get the message since they can be quite slow at understanding.  In the stern of the boat is a bag of small size pieces of dog food that I throw out by the handful to all my feathered friends. 

The other feathered friend I have had conversations with are the chickens that can be found in LOTS of backyards.  When we were in Alrewas there were some just along the canal near where we parked the boat.  I had to pass them when heading into town and I would always stop and ask the ladies how their days were and if they had lain any eggs for me that day.  To explain, it is quite common to see half dozens of eggs sitting near the front door of houses with a container beside to put your money into if you decide to make a purchase.  While in Alrewas I was a regular customer of these canal side ladies and they produced  wonderful eggs, both in flavor and in color. 

As an aside, the eggs you buy in England, even in a more conventional store, are 99% free range.  That is how it is done here.  The only place I have seen that bucks the trend is ASDA (what we would call Walmart) and that goes with the territory of Walmart.

When cruising I have also conversed with a donkey, sheep, horses, ponies, cows, birds and every local cat and dog I get near.  It is sort of like when I was a very little girl.  Aunt Neva, my next door neighbor who was not an Aunt of blood but of the heart, had an Italian relative visiting one summer.  He did not speak English.  I did not speak Italian.  But we spent that summer sitting on the front porch talking together and both of us were very happy with the arrangement. :)

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