Strawberry Warfayre

The annual three-way battle in the strawberry patch between flora, fauna and man is about to begin.

Representing the flora is a small patch of strawberry plants, some still flowering while others concentrate on setting fruit and making it blush. The bloomers look at their more advanced comrades with envy as they wave their blossoms at passing bumblebees, hoping for a friendly tickle.

The fauna camp is represented by a mixed avian bag, mainly consisting of drooling blackbirds. They perch on a handy rail above the plants turning their heads this way and that hoping to catch a glimpse of shocking pink.

The world of man is represented by a creature known to the avian community as the “Dumb Human.” It is he who ducks as the tui dart back and forth between the trees on their bombing missions, gathering on lofty perches to exchange lively comments. “Well done Bluey. He really flinched that time! My turn now. I’m going to zoom past his left ear and do a double somersault into that tarata tree. Here goes…”

To the blackbirds, the Dumb Human is the provider of the garden spa, a large planter saucer brimming with water under the placid wisteria. Here they gather to gossip, compare notes on the progress of the strawberries, and practice their belly-flops; shrieking to the Dumb Human that the spa pool is mysteriously empty and needs topping up for the next round of diving competitions. The odd thrush tries to join their queue for a dip but is chased off to play in the proper birdbath – eschewed by the blackbirds as the “learner’s pool.”

The Dumb Human also supplies the blackbirds with another of life’s little luxuries, the dust wallow. Nicely tilled patches of garden bed where the latest batch of seeds has been hidden are preferred. Not only can they flap about in the rich-smelling dust, but the avian equivalent of a vending machine provides regular seedy snacks.

Last year, the battle royale over the strawberry patch was a draw. One to the Dumb Human, one to the blackbirds. The D.H. suspects that the hedgehogs managed to nick a few fruit as they tootled past, as well.

This year, the Dumb Human has excelled himself. The patch is to be protected by bird-proof netting, of the style much-favoured by harassed grape-growers. To this end, a plastic rail has been run the length of the strawberry patch to hold the netting off the plants.

On discovering this, the blackbirds whistled in amazement. The D. H. had erected a viewing gallery directly over the blooming plants! Yippee! Here they can gather and chatter excitedly as the fruit ripens below their very claws. Aerial reconnaisance is now the order of the day – no more arduous ground inspections.

A new garden routine, known as the cuckoo dance, has been established. The Dumb Human watches the blackbirds gather on the rail for the morning inspection of the developing fruit. Out he dashes shouting, “Begone you thieving varmints!” and the birds erupt in a flurry of wings and alarm calls.

Up in the trees they gather. “Grumpy old coot,” says one. “We’re just looking. Sheesh! Has he gone yet?”

“Yep. I heard the door click. That plant over there had a near-ripe berry on it last evening, let’s check it out.” A brief squabble breaks out as they jostle for position on the rail over the twitching plant.

Inside, the Dumb Human is curtain-twitching. Seeing them gather again on the rail, he tip-toes to the door and emerges like a rabid cuckoo from a hyperactive clock. “Scram, you light-clawed larcenists. There’s plenty of seedy bread in the feeder yonder.”

“Oh, poo. Who wants boring old seedy bread when there’s beak-smacking juicy fruits to be pecked at,” they cry.

“Gee. This man-baiting is hot work. I’m off for a dip. We’ll sneak back later when he’s having his granny-nap.”

Meanwhile the Dumb Human counts the number of set fruit and the remaining blossoms. When the balance tips in favour of the fruit, the net can go up. He just hopes that the bimbly-bees have been reading those weight-loss brochures that have been tacked up on the trees and can now squeeze through the net to work their magic on the last of the strawberry flowers. Fat chance.

All this so that I can enjoy a bit of strawberry fayre….

2 Responses to “Strawberry Warfayre”

  1. Flashing Deldas says:

    Know how you feel dumb human! Him Outdoors and Her Indoors (usually) dug our tatties today! Must have been the hottest day of the year surely! Now too pooped to do anything except ponder on us dumb humans who toil so arduously in the soil to fill our tums. There must be an easier way??

  2. Dorothy says:

    Ahh! Another delightful tale from the pen of DH. Makes such a change from all the constant supply of bad news we hear and read on a daily basis. Please keep them coming DH!

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