Thursday, 7 March 2013

Arch Nemesis

An arch nemesis, by its basic definition, is the principal enemy of someone. In fiction it is the hero's worst enemy.

So examples would be: Obi Wan and Darth Vader; Captain Hook and Peter Pan; Robin Hood and the Sherif of Nottingham; Sherlock Holmes and Professor Moriarty or Wile E Coyote and the Road Runner.

You get the idea.

In reality in everyday life, it's probably more rare. That said we could all most likely name several from history and even from recent times, most of them notorious and in the news constantly. Arch nemesis of the world in some cases.

But my arch nemesis is a little closer to home, and in the great scheme of things, not that news worthy.

My arch nemesis is . . . a cat!

My apartment is on the first floor of a small terraced row of similar apartments. From the rear door there is a set of steps leading down to a walled-in garden. There is a wall on one side which is a good 15 feet high, whilst along two other sides it is roughly five feet high.

Thanks to the skills of my friend Pauline in the past, the garden is well planted and thrives due to the rich soil and shelter. Over the past 15 years since the garden was created, the plants and shrubs have grown well over their expected height, and as a result the birds love it. On certain days I have counted more than a dozen different varieties.

But, almost all seven of the neighbourhood cats have made this sheltered haven their toilet of choice. Apart from the resulting smell and mess, the cats also take the opportunity to stalk and sometimes kill the visiting birds.

It's not that I don't like cats, but I like birds and wildlife more.

So, over the years I have planted prickly plants in the ground and along the walls, raised the wall height
with large-guage fencing that cats can't get a purchase on and used a variety of deterrents including sonic alarms, all to try and keep the cats out.

This has had the desired effect. But not 100%.

There is one cat that has defied every attempt to keep it out. It casually looks at me from the garden when I spot it from the kitchen window, as if to say; "you'll never make it down those stairs before I make my escape", then squats and, well, you know what comes next.

Sometimes it does make me laugh though. For a few days I couldn't figure out why there were no birds at all in the garden. As I ventured down I heard a rustle, and there, half way up the bushy pine tree, was the cat, precariously balanced on a thin limb, hiding behind the foliage. Had it been able to, it would no doubt have raised its middle finger at me.

The battle continues. One I think I will ultimately lose.

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