Undogged

 

Papi, or Not-My-Dog, has vanished. Along with Codita, his canine friend up the hill, Papi has not been seen all week.

The last time he went missing, he’d been down in the valley chasing sheep with his girlfriend. A neighbour said the farmer who owned the sheep tried to spear Papi with a hayfork, but missed him by a whisker. The farmer complained to my neighbours, Papi’s owners, and threatened to charge them for any sheep killed.

Stupid damned dog! He has a fabulous life, free to roam, fed by three households, friend to all, and left to snooze in the grass for much of the day. He is only required to chase off foxes and birds of prey, and warn of strangers coming close.

The sheep-chasing incident got him chained up for two weeks, and only by a lot of begging did I persuade my kind neighbour to liberate him. But if the fool dog has gone sheep-chasing again, it’s very possible that this time he and Codita didn’t escape the wrath of the farmer. We may never know.

So my visitors’ companion on long walks, my loyal friend who chased off unwanted dogs and cats (and bears and wild boar who came too close), and the familiar black-and-tan figure who came to greet me when I drove down to the house – Papi may be no more than fond memories. Of course he may just be off on a spring jaunt, and might be back, exhausted, starving and happy…

Papi leads the way home

Papi loved taking visitors on walks around Magura

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I live in a fairytale

It’s true: I know it, and am grateful every day. My brother Charles and his family came to Magura this month for their first visit, and he was utterly bewitched by the place. He told all my neighbours that it was magical, like a fairytale. And not just the beauty of the landscape, but the survival of so many traditions: folklore, traditional dress, time-proven skills, food and the whole way of life.

Roxana & girls singingHe was fascinated by my neighbour Viorel’s skill with the scythe (I’ll post a video later), and was captivated by a happy moment when Viorel’s wife Roxana and a little chorus of children stopped on their way to a village wedding to give us a preview of the song they would sing for the bride.

I love it here. Wouldn’t you?

Too hot and sticky? Watch this!

For all of you suffering from heat and humidity, watch these two videos of yesterday’s gentle thunderstorm over a Carpathian mountain village in Transylvania, and bask in the calm, cooling greenery of my home. Aaahhhh…

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Weeds and cholesterol

19095332_1601402143267072_3596137347554648961_oHere’s my piece in the first edition of the new print magazine OZB (O Zi Buna). The English-language mag, well-illustrated, is produced by a British-Dutch-Romanian team for Romania’s international community (aka immigrants / expats) and is a lively read. Get stuck in – if you’ve got a story of your own, or know of one that needs telling, get in touch with editor Douglas Williams. And if you can distribute copies (they’re free), let him know that, too.

Here’s my piece on food, wild and otherwise. I’d love your feedback…

Simon’s Cat explains my year

If you don’t know Simon’s Cat, prepare to fall in love.

Here he is, the furry pillock, scampering through a year. He could very easily be Arabella’s Cat and has characteristics of all four of mine, but looks most like Buster.

Simon Tofield is the genius animator, cat lover, observer and entertainer. English, too. You can find out all about Simon and Simon’s Cat here.

This is largely how a year goes chez Arabella. Enjoy.

Transylvania ultra-marathon runners pass my door

This year’s Transylvania ultramarathon runs on 20 May, starting and finishing at Bran Castle, just down the road, and winding around the Bucegi and Piatra Craiului mountain ridges (both over 2,000 metres).

The masochistic runners will almost be passing my door, so if the occasional runner gets lost and ends up on my doorstep, painting and faint, I won’t be surprised.

Too late to register for this year’s race, of course, but put the date in your diary for 2018!

Snowmelt produces stunning patterns

The snow’s melting fast – but boy-oh-boy, is there a lot to melt!

I noticed amazing patterns on the foothill slopes as the thaw progresses – like some fabulous markings of a giant green creature.

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Reflections of a leopard shark?

Animal skin patterns on slopes of mountain

Stunning patterns like shark skin appear in the thaw

Even the snowman has stayed in bed

Still snowing. The Queen’s birthday, 21st April, and the weather is insisting that it’s only January. The wind has changed direction, about 180 degrees, and has strengthened a lot. So my gates are blocked and would need digging out, plus a path from the gates to the house. Where the wind has blown the snow off the trees, I can see colour of leaves, and some whiteness of blossom. I can’t believe the blossom will survive to become fruit, but I hope hope hope. Also hope the poor young bees and other pollinators have found somewhere warm to shelter.

Time to light the fire again. It’s 3 degrees outside, so there must be a thaw in progress, but it’s going to take a while…

Monochrome is SO last season

This morning. Thursday 20th April (my birthday, as it happens). Several trees weighed down by blossom, the daffodils, tulips, wild violets all blooming with life and colour. Now? We’ll see what survives this wintery onslaught. Oh Spring, where art thou?