Thursday, July 26, 2012
Two weeks ago Digger took off on a most excellent adventure with his new girlfriend, a slinky mastiff cross from the Pilbara. She's got short, shiny black hair. The two of them haven't been heard of since. In this sort of country, when the local ranger hasn't logged these two big two big personalities at the pound, it means they have probably been shot by a farmer whilst hurtling across a paddock after some sheep, or maybe a chicken ...
Digger and his girl. It's been a bit rough for Pearlie and Stormboy, particularly Stormboy, who doesn't say much.
When I was in Dunedin we used to visit the Otago Museum. Usually I wanted to finish an essay and I set the kids loose for the day while I wrote furiously on a couch on the third storey. But occasionally I'd venture around the place. One day, on the top storey I found myself in the room where all the animals lurked like ghosts. There sat two stuffed lions, squatting, like married sphinxes.
My notes read:
'The Otago Museum has a stuffed lion and lioness that escaped in Lawrence from a Carlos Circus performance in 1978 and 'unfortunately had to be shot.' The female's legs are tawny, spotted with orange, her paws as big as my outstretched hand. A beautiful preserving job. They make me so sad. Order. Carnivora. dogs. wolves. bears. cats. weasels. seals and walrus. The males' head is much broader, cleft of joined fur up the length of his nose to his crown, where the mane begins. Thick, dark fur along his belly, very little fur on his tail, slung low, like any cat.'
Imagine those two great cats. They'd been cooped up for a lifetime. They were probably born in cages. When they escaped, they set off into the wilds of New Zealand as a lion husband and wife. For a few short days the lioness and her lion roamed the Otago hills, across the paddocks, leapt over the dry stone walls, crept through those valleys of deep, deep green.
Until the bullets found them.