Bird Droppings from Estonia: Kevad on käes!
Arvamus 25 Apr 2011 Hilary BirdEWR
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I have been trying to write all weekend but it’s well nigh impossible to concentrate! [/i]Kevad on käes. Viimaks.[/i] Spring is here at last, radiant and vibrant, and it’s made everyone very light headed! It arrived this year by express - two weeks ago the garden was covered in stubborn heaps of impacted snow and any bulb wishing to stick its head out of the frozen earth would have needed a pickaxe and a miner’s helmet. Then a dramatic thaw set in - the Ema (Mother) River has risen over three metres! The high ice banks in Suur kaar (Big Bend St) that were caused by incessant snowfalls and four long months of activity by the municipal snow ploughs melted in a week and our garden became a quagmire with a fast flowing stream.

Everyone is in a good mood.

Officials at the passport office (my passport expired recently) were helpful, kind even – quite a change as stony faces and a little Hitler attitude are de rigueur for public servants here. No less than THREE cars stopped at zebra crossings – another first - to let me pass and a bus driver waited for me even though I did not need his bus.... add the fact that I have been bitten by something and puss threw up on the kitchen table after chewing some emerging grass and the picture is complete.

The sky today is a brilliant bright blue filled with slow, drifting white clouds, the sun is shining and its shorts and t-shirt time! The thermometer outside my kitchen window is reading 30º. Everyone is out of doors. In the day there is much beavering in the garden – digging, mending, planting - and enjoying the first snowdrops, crocuses and bluebells. Jelli has zapped out into the great outdoors but insists that the front doors (there are two) are propped open to cat-sized chinks. Today I just watched the world go by in the garden while she (unsuccessfully) hunted a butterfly. I have replenished the fat balls in the birdhouse and the sparrows top up when Jelli and Miisu-kiisu are distracted. In the evening the air is full of the smells of barbeques: the neighbours have had a 24-hour party with much chinking of glass and muted jollity …

Out at Ülenurme, the two Esto-Lancastrian cats have done their early spring disappearing acts and their humans have repeated the annual rituals of trying not to worry and refraining from getting out of bed at 5 o’clock in the morning to see if there is a feline is sitting on the doorstep pathetically mewing to be let in … There isn’t. The little sods saunter back nonchalantly whenever they feel like it and it’s seldom when you expect ‘em. Two local cats, Otto and Vincent, have gone missing and worried notices have appeared on telegraph poles with pictures of the missing mogs. Otto is now back. I have seen him and we hope that Vincent (a British blue) will also return soon. The storks are back from Africa and some serious nest repair has been completed in preparation for the year’s brood. And the Ülenurme geese are back in their hundreds in the water meadows behind the estate – it’s a fine sight to see them flying backwards and forwards (in v-shape formation) or bobbing around in the marshes. We await the Barn Swallows next …

I would like to be able say that I rushed out and leapt on the trike but my rushing and leaping days are over: I wheeled the red terror sedately out of the garage ten days ago and have been flitting about on it ever since clad in a luminous ambulance worker jacket and a white helmet – the latter are now required by law here. If the looks I get are anything to go by, I think I must be becoming a local celeb …

A hiatus followed the outbreak of intensive home-building in the shape of visitors from the UK. Four stressed out Londoners arrived at the very tip of our dramatic spring and we all headed off for spa at Otepää ... A wonderful time was had by all as we schlepped about the hotel in our towel robes, were pampered with massage and heat treatments and enjoyed the water works – pool, sauna, Turkish steam bath, Jacuzzi with a wonderful view over tranquil, beautiful Pühajärv (Holy Lake and not a cruise missile in sight). When that was finished it was walkies with Nordic walking sticks (although it was a bit too early to really enjoy this because the ground was so boggy), to take tea or coffee in a high tower with a great view overlooking the lake and forests or to tuck into the delicious scoff and quaff booze in the bar or restaurant ... I felt quite youthful as the place was stuffed with elderly Scandinavians enjoying (as we were!) the cheap rates at this time of year. I had some very interesting chats with ancient Swedes over brekkie. The spare day after spa was spent in a leisurely drive around the western shores of lake Peipsi ... quite empty apart from the border guards ...

And now my brain has really turned to cotton wool. I was going to report on cultural treats and to remark about the arrival of the Euro and the state of the nation, etc .. but my head is full of blue skies , fluffy clouds, butterflies, spring flowers, the returning birds and great joy! I’m off to the riverbank and then to translate poetry ... Have a great spring !!! Ilusat kevadet!
 
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