Our new gardener a bit of a madman. He’s Afghani, I think, and speaks about six words of English; however, he has a brother who speaks a bit more, and we manage to communicate more or less. His jaw dropped at the sight of his new charge. I think he expected we “English” to have a veritable forest in the back garden, and was shocked by the desolation of the dust bowl. Indeed, our few scrubby aloes weren’t terribly impressive.
The first thing he wanted to do was carpet the yard with camel dung (or whatever the foul smelling stuff they use here is) and put down sod. We let him. Who was I to argue (and how?)? Besides, without the sand box, the nasty neighborhood cats might find another toilet-cum-bordello to hang out in. Bonus. Once the lawn was in, the gardener decided we needed flowers along the borders. He ignored the spiky plants that were already there and merrily stuck in purple and white petunias. Very cheery for a month, but then they started frying in the sun and smelled worse than the cats or the camel dung. He moved on to some brightly colored, rather ugly zinnia-type-things that grow way too high and attract bees and gnats. At least most of the cats stay away.
But the bit I love is the grass. I know it’s silly to want to grow grass in the desert. I know I should be concerned about the atrocious wastefulness of keeping a garden green during the 45C+ heat of the summer in the middle of a desert. I also know that the Crumbling Villa came with two trees that are perfect for hanging a hammock between, so I’ve got my grass. It’s marvelous to run my toes through. Even the Grumpy One joins me under the trees when the evening is cool enough, so he doesn’t dare complain (much). And the cats don’t like it nearly as much as the sand, so most have moved on to other, drier gardens. Bonus.
Friday morning I was making breakfast (which I do from time to time) and went to the sink to wash up a couple of dishes (which I do somewhat less frequently). I looked out of the kitchen window to enjoy the newly mown lawn and saw this lovely fellow strutting up and down and flexing his wings, looking for all the world like he owned the place. I was wildly excited to think that something so rare and exotic had been drawn to my precious lawn, and nearly burned the sausages gawping at him.
I made the Goat get his camera and take photos of it so I could ask the Natural History Society people whether they’d ever seen such a magnificent bird, only to find when I proudly showed them the pictures that my rare, exotic treasure is as common as muck, at least around here. So common, in fact, that Upupa epops, or the hoopoe (as he is called) was the bird that the Queen of Sheba (which is right next door) sent to chat with King Solomon in the Koran,according to my students. Kind of the messenger pigeon of his day, I suppose.
Still it would be nice if this little hoopoe moved in. Perhaps he will if we can keep the last of the neighborhood cats out of the yard. I wonder what the Pashtu is for "Go ahead and turn the hose on the cats if you want to"?