I have to say, I’m slightly saddened at the less than enthusiastic reception my writing about my shoes has received in some quarters. In my humble opinion it’s exactly this sort of closed mindedness that has led to so many of our modern day problems. (Only joking, lovely regular readers! Please don’t stop reading! #ingratiatingsmile.) * Anyhoo, the point of the shoe writing is that I was wearing Keens walking shoes, which have a sole made, I presume, from the same stuff as the soles of their water sandals, and which sticks to wet rocks like cat sick to a cushion**. Thus shod, I was able to leave the trail and clamber down to a spot above the pool at the foot of the falls, where I could see and photograph the mist hanging in the air festooned with rainbows.

I gazed longingly into the pool itself, but, perhaps fortunately, I didn’t have my swimming gear with me. Even if I had, I probably wouldn’t have gone in, as the trail up to the falls had notices at various spots warning tourists not to enter the water, with dire warnings in the shape of tales of families who had gone for a paddle and lost several members. (Awful as this is, it did remind me of Dylan Thomas’s A Child’s Christmas in Wales, when he lists, amongst the Sensible Presents, “books of cautionary tales about little boys who were warned not to skate on Farmer Giles’s pond, and did, and drowned”.)

Whilst I was down at the water I noticed a heron wading around in the pools downstream of the falls. (Clearly hadn’t read the notices.) When I’d climbed back up to Leslie and Terry I pointed it out, and, as we watched it, it took off and flew gracefully downstream a little before swooping upwards again to land photogenically on the top of a lone dead pine looming over the valley. Nor was the heron the only bird sitting silhouetted on the tree – one of the lower branches was occupied by a crow which had found something tasty to eat and had taken it up to the top of the pine in the hope, doubtless, of a peaceful lunch. The heron was clearly intent on nicking said lunch, rather like the school bully lumbering across the playground towards a scrawny first-year, except more graceful and in feathers rather than a blazer.

And now played out a wonderful little drama. The heron, hunched on top of the pine, was acting as though she hadn’t noticed the crow, doubtless in the hope of employing the element of surprise. The crow had stopped eating and was staring suspiciously at the heron. The two remained like that for a few minutes, shifting around in a sort of Mexican standoff as though wondering who was going to go first. Then the tableau was amended by the arrival of another crow, which I initially assumed to be likewise after a free lunch but which turned out to be a have-a-go heroine out to save her chum.

The first crow remained on her branch a few levels below while the second crow started to gradually jump closer and closer to the heron. I could imagine the conversation:

“You ok, Kaz? That slag bovvering you?”

“Won’t leave me alone, Di. Giving me the right ‘ump, I can’t eat me lunch.”

“Right, leave ‘er to me. Oy, Helen or whatever yer name is, wot’s your game?”

“Careful, Di, she can be a right cah when she wants to.”

“Yeah, well I can be a right cah an’ all. Oy! Skinny! I’m TALKING to you!”

This conversation was extended until Di was sitting right underneath Helen threatening to “Come up there and sort ‘er AHT!”. Helen managed to repel boarders by the simple expedient of ignoring the small sweary bundle of feathers threatening to “turn yew inter fevver dusters” and Di, perhaps sensibly, didn’t have the balls, or whatever is the avian equivalent thereof, to jump up there and actually tackle her. Di then jumped back down and sat next to Kaz, the two of them doubtless sharing unpleasant gossip about Helen’s weight, shape, haircut, lovelife and family until Helen finally got fed up with it and flapped off back to the river on the basis that if you catch your own lunch at least you only have to put up with backchat from the lunch and not from obstreperous neighbours.***

Fortunately Leslie had her camera with her and was able to take fabulous pictures of the exchanges, which she then kindly shared on Facebook so I have been able to reproduce them here. Enjoy! And more shortly (about hotels and coyotes rather than shoes 😉).

*Although I would not recommend Sex and the City, which has quite a lot about shoes…..

**Personal experience.

***Of course they would have been speaking with American accents, but I can’t write American slang, so Sarf Lunnon it is.