I don't recall ever seeing quite as many butterflies about as I have today. Vast numbers of them fluttered about outside my house, visiting the hedgerows and gardens as they went about their business. It called to my mind a passage from the stunning book "Aftermath", by Joel Meyerowitz. It is an important work, documenting the recovery and cleansing at the World Trade Centre site in the hours, weeks and months after the September 11 2001 atrocities. About two months after the attacks, while fires were still burning underground, steelworkers were removing the vast, collapsed steel beams that once supported the North and South Twin Towers. A member of the NY Arson and Explosion Squad described to Meyerowitz something that the photographer had just missed when one of the beams was pulled out. He said "We were on our knees, digging in the smoke, when all of a sudden we were surrounded by Monarch butterflies - swarms of them flitting [up out of the void and] around us, tapping on our helmets in the smoke. One of the guys stood up and said "Souls."." That's how it seemed to me.
Of course, my poetic rhapsody did not last long. It was interrupted by the spectacle of the smoky-grey cat from opposite (the kittens' mother) trying to catch the butterflies as they flitted about. She stalked and pounced wildly at them. Happily, she did not succeed in catching any, so I was able to enjoy the rather comical sight. However, I withdrew indoors before she spotted me - not wishing to be seen by her, as I still am in really quite an incredible amount of trouble from that direction.
Particularly irritating, as I had been enjoying the sunshine today. My partner has been working on her computer, occasionally breaking off to chat to me, and we have been (and still are, as I type) listening to the Ashes on the radio on Test Match Special. England are doing abysmally. I am disgusted. Perhaps there will be an improvement tomorrow. I can only hope.
But greater things have been concerning me. Just three short nights ago, the Sky Dog arrived to torment me once again. He came for me whilst I slept. The angry crashing, roaring and flashing light began at a little before 4.00am and put an end to all slumber for me and my partner that night. At one point, I also heard Starsky from next door through the wall (which I have never done before), wailing and sobbing in fear. I pitied him. "It's alright Starsky!" I called hoarsely, "My partner will save us both!" As my partner quieted my barks, I heard Starsky whimpering his thanks. At that point I stole all the pillows I could find and barricaded myself in under the duvet until dawn sent the Sky Dog away.
A day or so later, I ventured out to the park, there to meet with Candy and Harvey. They were both there already when I arrived, tapping Harvey's football around. "What happened the other night?!" I panted, having rushed up to my friends. "I thought the Sky Dog was going to kill me for sure that time!"
"What are you talking about?" yipped Harvey.
"The flashing, booming Sky Dog." I replied testily, "He roars at me and flashes his lights and rumbles his horrible intentions."
"No, no." said Harvey, "That is the Cloud Tiger. He flashes his shining teeth and roars and purrs with HUGE crashes. I was so afraid when he came the other night that I had an accident and dirtied my fur. My partner was a bit cross."
"It's the Sky Dog, not a Cloud Tiger." I said firmly, ignoring the idea of Harvey soiling himself.
"Nope. 'S a Cloud Tiger. Honestly. I've SEEN him. He rides on a MASSIVE black cloud."
"Oh, for goodness' SAKE!" barked Candy, glaring at us both, "You two are a pair of complete turnips. Jasper - I expected better of you." We just looked at her. "It's not a Sky Dog or a Cloud Tiger! It's just the weather! It is perfectly normal."
Harvey and I regarded Candy silently for a moment and then dissolved into helpless laughter. We clutched at each other as we laughed and laughed. Harvey's tail thumped the ground.
"Oh, dear me," I puffed, wiping my eyes on the grass.
"Candy," snorted Harvey, "What are you talking about?! Weather is wind and rain and sunshine."
"And snow." I put in.
"Ye-es." said Candy slowly, as if she was addressing a class of very young puppies, "And a thunderstorm is a natural build-up of atmospheric pressure and precipitation, released suddenly." This brought more snickers and snorts of derision from her two pupils.
"Precipitation!" squeaked Harvey, almost unable to bark amidst his guffaws, "That's a big word for a pretty lady." And, with that, Harvey and I collapsed into hysteria once again. Candy just looked at us both, frowning and shaking her head.
"You two need medical help." She muttered, before tapping the football with her snout and trotting off after it.
Arriving home after the walk, I crossed paths with Starsky. It was a little uneasy. Eventually, he said "Thank you for your comforting words."
"That's alright." I replied, "Thought the Sky Dog was going to get me that time."
"What?" he replied, looking puzzled, "The Lightning Dragon, surely?"
"Yes. He swoops down on his mighty wings, shooting bright electric light from his mouth and nose, and roaring that he is coming to get me. I nearly wet my fur the other night."
I opened my mouth to contradict him, but changed my mind. I wasn't having the same argument twice in one day. I knew that I was right about the Sky Dog and that the others were just making up rubbish.
"My girlfriend says that it's just the weather." I barked, instead. Starsky laughed.
"Weather?! Is she mad? Weather is sunshine and wind and rain!"
"And snow!" I added.
"And snow. Weather! Dearie me..." and he continued muttering and chuckling to himself as he went back into his own garden, up his path, and through the doggie-flap in his front door. I listened to it flutter and click closed behind him, glad that we had at last reached a mutual acceptance. Having to bark loudly at him every time he passed by or appeared in his garden was beginning to give me a headache.
The weather, indeed! Women are terribly comical when they attempt to think for themselves. (though I wouldn't dare to bark this in front of my partner. I hope she doesn't read this...).