Posts Tagged With: love dove

104: Siavonga

“Wow, this is so nice,” Chelsi exclaimed, walking out into the cool breeze coming off the lake.  Reaching for the railing of the hotel restaurant’s deck, she stretched her muscles; cramped from sitting in a minibus all day.  The hotel was positioned on the side of a mountain, looking over the Lake Kariba.  Chelsi hadn’t been anticipating the mountains, and got excited when she saw them out the window of the bus; then terrified when the bus careened on the mountain road, conductor hanging out the sliding door of the van. “You got very lucky,” Chelsi said to her recently found friend. “I guarantee my house will not be this nice, nor would be any other place I put you up in!”

“This is a very nice place.” Chelsi met Hans, a Tanzanian national, on her trip to Zanzibar. Her and her friends had been talking about Peace Corps, when Hans over heard them, walked up and mentioned that he was interested in adding a Peace Corps  volunteer to the team of his small NGO.

“And here I picked this time for you to come down thinking that it’d be okay because I would have a house, and what not. But good thing I called to remind Yalelo I was coming today, and they could arrange room for the two of us.” Chelsi had been surprised by the lack of professionalism the fish farm seemed to have.  As a for profit business, she wondered how it managed to run, if they couldn’t even manage to pick up their volunteer from the bus station their appointed date and time.  And what’s this about my house not being ready yet? The whole thing made her apprehensive about meeting the fish farm’s president the following morning.

Hans noticed the twist on Chelsi’s face as she thought. “You know, if you’re having second thoughts about the fish farm you can always come work for Better Nation,” he read her mind.

She threw him a side cast glance, “I only wanted to stay this side if it meant I could do this position; work on the fish farm, do something more closely related to my field.  So far all you have to offer me is a chicken project, and for even less money.  I’ve spent the last 2 years battling chickens!” Chelsi said exasperated.

Hans laughed, his white teeth flashing against the dark backdrop. “Come on now seriously.  Think of all the widowed, and divorced women, single mothers we could help.”  Hans’ grand plan was to help disadvantaged women become financially independent by helping them start small poultry operations.

Chelsi didn’t know that much about keeping chickens, but she always found terrestrial beings easier to care for than aquatic ones, the rules for chickens seem simple enough, proper food, water, housing and vaccination every three months.  The thought of New Castle vaccines gave her a flash back to her dove Spud, whom she’d always had suspected died of New Castle, when exactly two weeks later nearly every chicken in the village dropped dead.  She smiled.

Kerosene lights, used to attract minnows to the small fishing canoes out on the lake, twinkled off the water.  With the reflection of the stars, the lake seemed a more infinite universe than the one in the sky.  Chelsi ran her hand along the curved iron railing.  She thought the thought, that she thought a lot, about what it would be like, would have been like, if she hadn’t extended and just closed her service with the rest of her intake.

Having dodged two lanes of airport traffic, standing on the third, the last median for airport arrivals to be picked up by friends, family members, or rent-a-car shuttles.  With her duffle bag in one hand, the leash of her dog in the other, and overstuffed hiking backpack on her back, she would stare blankly at the airport parking garage across the road; cars whizzing through her field of vision. In the sun it would be warm, but given that arrivals were let out through the airport’s walkout basement, she would shiver when a cool draft came off a bus, bring her back to her current place. She would refocus on the traffic, for her parent’s car, and say to herself ‘Well, that happened…’

“So should we eat? Am feeling hungry,” Hans asked, pulling her attention back to the present moment.

“I was just thinking about Daisy, I hope she’s doing alright.” After deciding to would be too difficult to bring her down to Siavonga for a week, Chelsi had arranged to have her darling dog boarded at the kennel volunteers typically used in Lusaka. The following week Chelsi was to start her home leave.  Home leave being the month of special leave to the States that Peace Corps afforded to volunteers who extended for a third year.

“You have her at a very nice place. Am sure all is good,” He responded.

“All is under control?” She teased him.

“Yes,” he smiled.

“So, should we sit outside here, or maybe there?” Chelsi gestured to the far side of the deck to the right.

“Am feeling just a little bit cold.”

“Yeah, the draft from the lake is stronger than I thought it would be.  Especially for a place everyone was telling me is the hottest in Zambia.” Chelsi starting walking off towards the small building with floor to ceiling windows that revealed a bar, several tall tables and chairs and the forest green felt of a pool table, on the other side of a water lit, bean shaped pool.

Whatever happened instead, instead of the day dream she had had for the last two years, she felt prepared; that nothing could be more difficult than what she had already endured, that nothing could surprise her more than the melancholy she had felt as she drove away from her village for the last time, and nothing would replace the space in her heart for the hardest job she would ever love.

Categories: Adventure, Fantasy, Mystery, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

056: Dove Run

“Damn it,” Chelsi ran down the over grown path to the dove house. Why? Why are you so careless! She thought to herself.  Ever since his mate had disappeared, James, a big, grey aggressive male, had been doing his best in tending to his chick.  But Chelsi had to admit, he was lacking the touch of experience. Where his mate used to enter the nesting box for feedings, James insisted on remaining the porch so his chick had to perch precariously in the doorway, and stretch it’s neck all the way down to it father.  And having now lost its balance the two doves were falling from the house in a frenzy of flapping wings.

“NO Daisy! Stay there.” She scolded the dog who came bounding after her ready to play.  She knew Daisy’s intentions would not have been to harm the baby dove now sitting on the ground, but just one playful pounce from the dog would be the end of it.  James, after overcoming the startle of hitting the ground, flew back up on top of the house. Distracted for a moment by the abandonment of his father, Chelsi figured she would be able to make a quick rescue, but the nose of her dog burst into her field of vision. She grabbed her quickly by the scruff of her neck.    Refocusing on the descending danger, it let lose a few startled chirps, found its feet and took off towards the brush.

“Stay there Daisy!” the dog whimpered, not used to being left out.  The brush made the chick safe from the dog, for now, but another danger lurked just beyond.

James cooed an alarm call to the remaining doves, which were already perched atop the thatch of their house intently watching the scene below.

It had been a few hours since Chelsi had seen Norbert, her black, blue eyed kitten, and she knew the brush beyond the bird house had been a popular place for cats to hang out.  Daisy was lying down now, and though Chelsi was not sure she would stay, she could not wait much longer.  She turned and stepped gingerly into the brush.  She stooped down to see if she could see the chick beneath the small branches.  When there seemed to be nothing to see she rustled the brush hoping it would flush. Nothing.

Her mind raced with confusion, I just saw it! How far could it have gone? Her heart began to race but she tried to beat it back and prepare herself for loss.  When the chick betrayed it’s position with a soft cry for its father.  It had made it much farther than Chelsi had assumed.  She stepped to bring it back into arms reach, but as she did so the baby dove jumped to its own feet and started off further into the brush.  Its legs were short and clumsy by it spread it’s undeveloped wings for balance and began far faster and more agile that Chelsi could have ever imagine.  The little chick was able to scurry away from her every step. “Come here you little bugger!”

Following it deeper and deeper into the brush, she imagined different ways she might be able to grab it without braking one of its wings.  She thought maybe I’ll just chase it until it tires and stops, then ridiculousness of her situation flashed though her mind as an image. Yup, she sighed, thankfully no ones around to watch. But she wasn’t alone she remember when the sound of crunching leaves got louder and louder.  The chick was just leading Chelsi around a tree when it stopped frozen in front of the nose of her dog.

“Daisy! Leave it!” and in a heart pounding moment Chelsi scooped up the startled dove and hugged it to her chest.  The body of the chick thumped.  Chelsi relaxed. All together, they started back to the dove house.

James sat beside his box, anxiously awaiting the outcome.  He cooed a few times when they came into view. “You have to be more careful!” she scolded the single father, after depositing his chick back into the box.  It scurried back on to the nest.

Chelsi heard a soft meow from under the dove house. She looked to see Norbert flicking his tail back and forth, “Have you been sitting there all this time?” But Daisy pounced on him before he could answer and with a blink they bounding back in to the brush to play.

James' Chick

James’ Chick, snug in its nest

Categories: Action, Drama, Thriller | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

047: Free the Birds

“Todays the day! Todays the day!” Chelsi excitedly rubbed Daisy’s face between her hands.  The air warm but the cement floor was cold on her feet.  She pulled back the curtains, and pushed open the rear window.  Leaning out the window, the way she did every morning. She could see her large bird house, brightly painted flowers showing and bits of grass thatch poking through the net covering.  A few of her birds were perched on the sticks holding together the house stand. After this morning she would no longer have to bring them plates of food twice a day, check their water every hour.  After five weeks I finally get to remove the net, and the birds will be free.
“Odi!” Menace’s deep voice boomed from the front of her house. 
“Naiya!” Quickly, Chelsi slipped on her skirt over her undershorts and rushed out the door to greet Menace.
“Juba jikatampe!” Chelsi exclaimed throwing her arms into the air.  Menace laughed.
“Thank you for coming to help.  My hope is the net comes off easier than it went on. Let me just grab the chair and stool from the house and I’ll meet you over there.” Chelsi ducked back into the house. 
She reappeared to find Menace had ignored her, probably for the best. She was struggling with the odd shape and size of the chair. “Here, can you take this?” she thrust it at him. “I’m going to grab the scissors too, cause we’ll probably need them to cut some of the ropes.”
Chelsi and Menace positioned the chair and stool so they were on either side of the house, then they started picking at the rubber ropes holding the containment net in place over the house.  “Elizabeth was telling me that you tried to bring some doves from your uncle’s house in town too. But that they flew away.” A few weeks before Menace had approached her asking for some nails to build his own small dove house. She obliged, after all he helped me paint and thatch mine.  Then built the stand its sitting on now.
“No, a dog ate two and the other two flew into the bush,” he corrected her. 
“Did you pull out their feathers so they couldn’t fly away?”
“No,” he said it with a chuckle. “But I didn’t know.”
“You should have told me you were bringing them and I could have help you.  If you don’t pull their feathers, or put a net around their for the first 21 days when they’re in a new home they’ll just try and fly back from where ever they came from.” She pause picking at a particularly difficult piece of rope. “Next time.  I’ll let you borrow my net if you want too.”
The more rope they stripped from the net the more violently the butterflies in her stomach started to flutter.  This is really the moment of truth.  For so many weeks and months she envisioned what it would look like; to be in her garden weeding and look up and see her brightly painted house, covered in colorful dove, glistening in the sunlight.  Momentarily she forgot the dangers of looking up while standing underneath a bird perch.  The morning gloom had not burned off yet.  There would be no glistening till this afternoon.  So long as all my birds don’t immediately fly away.
The big grey cock cooed from the door of his box. His mate pushed past him to see better what all the commotion was about.  I wonder if that pair can even remember how to fly, Chelsi wondered.  They were some of the first additions to the house. And though she was quiet certain that their flight feather had fully regrown, she wondered about muscle atrophy. 
“Alright, do you want to hand me the big piece of bamboo?  And grab that one for yourself.  I’m going to stand on the chair, so if you get on the stool… Yeah just like that. I think it might work that we just push the net up over and off the house.”
I want them to fly! I want to see the wind in their wings! Menace and Chelsi worked together to clear the first half of the house from the net. Just not too far for too long.  All seven of her birds were huddled up on a perch in the far corner, fearing that this change in their daily routine might be the mark of their end. 
“Perfect!” And just as the net cleared the last half of the house one of her birds lunged forward and took off.  It flew straight back into the bush.  Chelsi’s stomach dropped a little bit.  When the whole net hit the ground the flighty birds mate took off after it.  She looked across the house at Menace.  “I would have felt a little better if they all had taken off…” They looked up at the five remaining doves, perched stone still.  Oh my gosh, maybe they have been lock in the house to long and I broke them! She let out some of her unforeseen anxieties on Menace.  “I hope the other ones come back.”
“They will, look!” The two birds, side by side, swooped down over the house then lifted back up to circle the compound before landing in the tall branches of the tree beside her house.  Chelsi smiled and tried to calm the butterflies still fluttering away in her stomach. 
The pair of doves stayed perched in the tree for quite a while, preening their feathers and stretching their wings.  As Chelsi and Menace cleaned up the bits of string the remaining doves started to loosen up a bit too.  When the cleaning was down they sat on log beside the garden and watched the birds in the house, until the sun came out and glistened on their feathers. 

Categories: Drama, Fantasy, Gardening, Nature | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

027: A house for birds


The "completed" house for birds

“Ba Chelsi!  There you are, you have come,” a stocky Zambian man standing among piles of wood greeted her.
“Yes, of course.  How are you?”
“I am fine.” Their hands clasped with a large pop, “how are you?”
“I am fine, this is my friend Ginny,” she said motioning to the tall blond woman in a blue shirt beside her.
“Hi,” Ginny extended her hand. 
“So, how is the house coming along?” Something like a box sat between her and the carpenter.  The cluster of pressboard and 2”x2”s held together by a few nails sticking this way and that stood three feet tall, two feet wide and another three feet long. 
“It’s very good madam.”
“Is this the roof we talked about when we changed the design?” a half-a-dozen paired twos jutted up to create the skeleton of an A-frame roof.  “And are you going to be able to cover it with the press board like in the original design?”
“We have used up all the materials and I have used all the money.  There isn’t anything left to cover the roof.”
“That’s why when we turned the house on its side we were just going to put a flat slanted roof across the top, like people do with iron sheets.”
“But no madam, in the picture you drew it has this kind of roof.” He began removing a crumpled piece of paper from his pocket.
“I know what I drew, but we talked about changing.” Chelsi could tell now that he had simply forgot they had talked out changing the style of roof, even though it had just been two days ago.
“If you give me more money for materials, I can change it the way you want.” She looked at the pointed roof.  Covering it was not a huge deal.
“Maybe I will just put thatch on it when I get it to the village.”
“You want to put grass on the roof? Ah, but that won’t be good.”
“No, it’ll be fine. My house has thatch.  This way my house and the bird house will match.”  The other carpenters and loitering men who had gathered around began to chuckle. “Or I’ll just get an iron sheet for it.”
“Yes,” her carpenter agreed, “I think that will be better.” Her only other concern for it now was its sheer size. This will never fit in a regular taxi cab to get it back to the prov house.
“How does it look Ginny?” Chelsi asked turning to her friend.
Ginny rubbed her hand gently along the rough cuts of wood that was the roof. “It looks like doll-house.  Like, when I was a kid I could on play in this for hours.” She knelt down getting a closer look at the bare interior. 
“You think the birds will like it?”
Ginny smiled, straightening herself up. “Yes, yes I think they’ll like it.”
“Just the roof… I’ll take care of it later. How much more time do you think you need to finish it up? I want to know when I need to arrange a car to pick, because the taxi’s are expensive and I can only afford to bring one here once.”
“Two more days I think.”
“Okay, You still need to finish up framing the doors,” four, separated, compartments 12”x18”x12” sat atop four compartments of identical size.  The outward side of each compartment was a hinged door.  And at the moment some were just press board flaps leaving large gaps in the walls. “and putting on the landing stage for the lower level of pop holes; the little holes that the birds come in and out.”
“Alright madam.”
Chelsi gave it another look over.  The quality was not the highest but it would serve its purpose.  “And I’ll be back the day after tomorrow to pick it.  Probably around 17 hours so you have all the day to work on it. Okay?”
“Alright madam.”
Tukamonaangana.” He smiled and Chelsi and Ginny parted the way through the other men standing around, heading towards the tarmac. 
“So you’re going to use the house to keep pigeons?”
“That’s the plan.  I’m trying to convince a few other volunteers to keep some so we can send messages to each other.”
Ginny laughed with her big beautiful smile, “How do you do that?”
“After you get your birds, starting with six to eight and you home them, by penning them up in their new home for three to four weeks, you can then trade them with other people who keep doves, as Zambians call them, and the bird will fly back to where it’s been homed… I think Oliver in Mwinilunga and Rachel in Ichilange are going to get some too.” They stepped delicately through the mud that was the road.  The full force of rainy season had not begun yet but the city with trying to regrade some of the roads in a rush before it began and did this for this road by turning it to mud then rolling, rolling, rolling over it. 
“Okay, well that sounds fun. Where can you get doves, are they like the white ones?”
“No, doves and pigeon really are the same. So even that bird would do if you could catch it.” Chelsi pointed to a white and blue mottled bird perch on the iron sheets of the hardware and welding shops surrounding them.  “But a lot of Zambians keep them too; mostly as pets, weirdly enough. If you look around you’ll see what looks like iron sheets just stacked all on top of each other on roofs’ of houses. Those are their dove houses. And they don’t eat them, collect eggs from them; they’re just kind of there. I know a few people I was going to ask.”
“But you can eat them?”
“Yeah, the babies just before they start to fly.  In fancy restaurants in the States they call it squab.  And you can collect eggs from them.  I’ve read there about half the size of chicken eggs.  Which is impressive if you ask me considering their size.  But that’s why I have the door on the side that open. So I can get in and out of the compartments easier and manage them.”
“That’s sounds really cool, you’ll have to keep me updated on how it works out.”
“Of course!” Chelsi smiled.
“Do you want to go to Shoprite?” Ginny asked as they pulled themselves out of the last bit of mud and on to the tarmac.

Categories: Adventure, DIY, Food & Recipes, Mystery | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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