Monthly Archives: April 2018

ON THE OLD HIGHWAY

 Yesterday we drove to Larissa and took the old highway for a portion of the trip. Now there’s a new highway linking Athens and Thessaloniki, part of the E75.

The old road is more interesting – we passed here through some of the fertile farmlands of the Thessalian plain – but the new road is faster and more convenient, and a great deal more expensive what with all the tolls that are springing up more swiftly, it seems, than the poppies.

Alexander the Great must surely have seen mile upon mile upon mile of these bold blooms when he marched his men through Thessaly, astride his horse, Bucephalus, bred on Thessaly’s great plains.

It thrills me to drive along a route that Alexander himself was familiar with, though he’d not recognize it now. But then again, he surely would, for the mountains still rise as they did between Macedonia and Thessaly.

And Olympus, its snow-capped peak often draped in a cape of cloud, would have been given particular attention by him, for Alexander revered Zeus and the rest of the Olympian gods. They must have followed his progress far below their legendary home, as they lay about sipping the wine Dionysus took such great care of.

Enough of the history lessons! Feast your eyes on the poppies whose ancestors flourished unseen for aeons before Man ever came to Thessaly.

(Moi, we missed you!)

 

THE GREAT ESCAPE!

 Bella’s pups are growing and maturing so fast that people are finding it hard to believe that they aren’t yet four weeks old. I think they’re going to be bigger than she is, and as we have no idea who papa (or papas were) we can only wait and see how they develop.

Zeus

 This past Wednesday, when they were just exactly three weeks old, led by the obvious leader of the pack – I’m calling him Zeus – they clambered over the rocks keeping their door ajar and out into The Great Unknown. Actually, it wasn’t quite so unknown as we’ve carried them outside before several times and placed them on the ground, but on this occasion it was under their own steam.

It was funny watching them. They were a bit bewildered at first, not too sure of themselves. There was quite a bit of high-pitched squealing, and snuffling around, and several attempts to get back inside to the safety of the familiar, but once inside again, they climbed directly back out. Ron opened the door wide for them to make it easier, and then the game was on.

Bella, however, was totally disinterested. This rather surprised me. Did she not care, or was she letting them find their feet, as it were, in the Great Big World? She wasn’t far away, but she made no effort to approach them, no matter how much they squeaked and wailed. Ron and I were greatly amused watching them, and I suppose Bella was well aware that her puddle of pups were in no danger. Interestingly enough, as each one tired, he or she waddled on shaky little legs back to the snuggly comfort of their bedding and dropped off to sleep very quickly.

Again, I was a bit taken aback that Bella didn’t join them. I guess I’m more accustomed to mother cats who are far more solicitous – at least in my experience – of their babies. The pups’ little bellies must have been full though, for they slept quietly for a long time. Or maybe they were simply exhausted by their adventure.

It definitely hasn’t been dull around here in this quiet little part of Kalamos.

 

POPPYING UP ALL OVER!

FROM HOMELESS TO PROPERTY PORTFOLIO

Bella has moved right up in the world, and well she deserves it. When she got what I’m calling her sunlounger, she surely thought that’s as good as it could possibly get.

 I was certainly not prepared for how fast her offspring would grow, and soon it became clear that it was getting a bit crowded in Sophia’s kennel, big though it is.

 Several years ago we turned the large space under the front steps into a dog house for Sophia to use during the day if we were away; Costa would put her into the house at night. We had the cement floor tiled, installed a heater for winter, and ordered a dog door over the internet. It certainly is very comfortable, but Sophia preferred to use the kennel on the porch if she wasn’t inside the house with us.

Over the last few years we put a large pallet inside the understairs space and placed several olive crates with blankets on it. In there the many and varied cats who seek refuge here, and which we provide food for, could get shelter from the miserable winter weather. (We have seven much-loved pet cats who sleep inside the main house).

Last week we took all the cat beds out – the hanger-on cats are not sleeping there now as it’s warm – and arranged bedding for Bella, who was not made aware of the new accommodations. We went to Volos for the day, intending to introduce her to the new home when we returned. The kennel was empty when we got back and I panicked for a moment, but would you believe – Bella and family were stretched out in there! How she got them in I have no idea. They are far too big for her to pick up, so we can only assume she pushed them out of the kennel, and then rolled them into the new apartment. She loves it in there. That dog is not stupid, that’s for sure.

Ron was anxious about not having a kennel for the ‘wild’ cats to use if they wanted to, so while we were in Volos, he bought another kennel of the same brand, but smaller. These are made of cedar wood, stand on legs and are wind and water tight; very nicely constructed.

Well, no sooner had he assembled it and placed it on the porch than Bella took her ease in it.

Got to hand it to that dog – she knows a good thing when she sees it. When she’s not feeding her pups she has a choice of three spots to relax in, and she all but grins.

 The pups are walking about in their house-under-the stairs – not that they’re awake very much – and it can only be a day or two before they’ll get out into the yard. We’re having to give some thought to containing them. It’s certainly going to get very lively around here, and I will literally have to watch my step.

 

MOVING SEASON

 The flycatchers were having a serious squabble yesterday morning outside my study window. The migrant birds have arrived, and this nesting spot which has been empty through the winter, has suddenly become much sought after real estate. I’m not sure if the original occupants have come back to their summer home, or if squatters are trying to take over.

You may recall this entry, Bye-Bye-Birdies, where I pointed out how the birds seem to like using my knitting and sewing trimmings. Yesterday’s argument involved pulling out the previous bedding arrangements – presumably in preparation for a fresh new look – and the dwelling was left in what realtors might term “move-in ready condition,” or des res, as in “desirable residence.”

But today all is quiet. No sign of eager tenants. There are plenty of flycatchers darting about the grounds, and many have nested at the side of the house, but this particular residence appears to be no longer desirable. 

I think it’s a fine spot to raise a family. It’s sheltered, the views are fabulous, the air is fresh, and there’s an abundance of organic food for the offspring.

It will be interesting to see what happens.

 

SOME RESPITE FOR MUM

 Bella’s devoted to her silky little puppies, but they’re already taking a toll on her. The black one with the wide white collar – rather like a nun’s wimple – is particularly demanding, and sets up a noisy protest as soon as ma’s not doing his or her bidding. Does this mean it’s the leader of the pack? Maybe it’s just convinced of its own importance. Whatever, it’s certainly not going unnoticed, and its strong character’s sure to make it a lovely pet one day. A red collar’s going to set off that white neck fur very nicely.

We placed Sophia’s dog bed just outside the kennel, and Bella took to it right away. She’s spending a fair bit of time in it, escaping the fatly fed pups when they fall into a contented cuddle as they drop off her into puppy dreamland. Can’t say I blame her. They’re a great deal of work, and I cannot even begin to imagine how she’d have coped alone in the wilds. How do these unfortunate animals find food? I’m not going to go there because I get overwhelmed at the thought of the endless misery in the world.

To happier thoughts then. Bella’s one lucky dog, and one whose pups will surely have good lives. I’m certainly going to do my best for them all. They will be strong and fit, completely used to people, not terrified  – a very good start for them indeed. Bella’s got a very sweet personality, and given her happy circumstances I’m sure her babies will be delightful dogs too.

PAWS is very supportive of our efforts. You can see Bella and her cuties here on PAWS Facebook page. PAWS does the most amazing work here on the Pelion Peninsula, under very difficult circumstances, and with very limited means.

We put the puppies into the dog bed for a little while yesterday; gave us a chance to freshen the bedding.

Bella took advantage of the opportunity to wander off through the grounds for a bit. It’s quite humbling how much she trusts us with her babies. She sat calmly watching us as we put them back into the kennel, then followed them inside.

Bella’s relaxing in her sunlounger as I write this morning. It’s quite funny really, rather like a mum’s day out for her, or perhaps spa time.

Her ear looks a lot worse than it is, and is responding well to treatment.

I’ll keep you updated as the pups grow. It’s certainly getting even more hectic around here!