Austin caught a mongoose today in the trap his sister brought from Texas! This is a big deal. He said he was going to keep it alive – I guess maybe to show off, maybe to take to the coast and release. But the dogs went so bonkers, he had to go ahead and kill it. He told me he hung in in a tree by the road. He doesn’t want to eat it and our neighbors (Indians) won’t eat it – but he thinks some Fijians think it mongoose is good eating.
I was walking on our road with a neighborhood girl, age 9. She said, “Aunty, something-something pay-shan fruit.” Huh? Ok, passion fruit. She must be pointing toward a passion fruit vine. I smiled and nodded. I didn’t know which set of leaves she was pointing to, but it didn’t matter. “They’re outside the fence, so help yourself when they’re ripe,” I said. A few meters further, she said something about “many guavas” – we were nearly under a guava tree – I said, “they are nearly all gone now, we picked them for jam.” A few steps further she said, “The birds eat the guavas, Aunty.” ( I did figure that out for myself a few weeks ago.) What struck me was how aware she was of every fruit plant along the road – and how she thought it made good conversation the way my relatives all talk about the weather.
Hello! In the branches of the tree holding up one end of the clothesline there is a black bird with a red butt and a head that reminds me of a woodpecker. I’ll tell you what I know about this bird. It is not a heron, and it is not a myna. Mynas are the multitudinous pesky black birds with yellow eye rings who go for all the chicken food, and also fly into my porch/kitchen to see what they can find on the counters.
Driving down the road later:
“Austin, you know the black bird with the red butt?”
“Yeah that’s a bulbul – eats papayas, introduced species, you didn’t know them before?”
“No” (I did hear of them, but who cared?).
A few more clicks down the road, “Hey, what’s with all the dead trees?!” (a LOT of them now)
“Someone poisoned them.”
“Probably but it’s not effective, not systematic”
Yeah, I saw spathodia in bloom right there on the other side of the road.
Why do I hate spathodia, you may ask. I thought it over. Spathodia is like the bitchy trophy wife. Not content to be just an ornamental of no other value, the spathodia throws down leaves that poison the ground below and make the soil bitter and unusable. In Spanish it called “matar finca” (kill the farm). The Fijians call it “peece-peece” (i.e. piss-piss) in honour of the missed-the-toilet fragrance of its flowers. The kicker of it is that whereas “a tree without fruit is fit only for the fire” – spathodia has wet wood that doesn’t even burn well!
All the toads in the yard tonight were small ones, and all hanging at least 10 meters away from the house. Toads are smarter creatures than you would guess.
This evening I noticed a dessicated gecko in the window by the bathroom sink. I’m surprised. Surprised it died there, and surprised it dried out without stinking the place up.
Austin’s pretty sure a rat has died in the ceiling of the cottage where guests from Denmark are due to return tomorrow afternoon – guess why! Lucky them…… (The theme this week is apparently “dead critters”)
WRONG – the suspected dead rat is in the ceiling of the main house. “Didn’t you smell it, Kim?” No, I didn’t, but now I do. Ugh.
Neighbor boy told Austin that they’ve seen wild pigs on our new land. We planted cassava and the field is up against the forest. Tales to come: pig hunting in a country where no one keeps guns.
And my last few notes on a Wednesday night: a second mongoose – and a THIRD ! – were caught in the trap, They are now in the smaller freezer – waiting to become dogfood or exotic barbeque. And today Akka harvested kumquats with a chain saw. Don’t ask.