"It is your lion, isn't it? It seems to have arrived with you. ... What do you feed it?"It is one of my favorite exchanges in literature -- from The Lion of Boaz-Jachin and Jachin-Boaz, an English novel I left behind in the Great Salem Clearance. I read it over forty years ago, but that passage is still fresh in my mind.
"How do you know it eats?"
The letter writer's face flushed. He looked as if he had been struck. "I'm so sorry," he said. "I beg your pardon."
In a flash Joachim-Boaz understood it was as if one duke who owned a rare and expensive motorcar had been rude to another duke who happened not to own such a car.
I might try a similar line myself. One of these days.
Some of you have asked me if I miss the laguna wildlife at Casa Nanaimo? The question is valid. I do not need to recite the list of critters I adored; you have been reading about my Marlin Perkins adventures for the past five years.
But I need not fret. Because I have something that very few others have in their back yard. My own rare and expensive motorcar. Metaphorically speaking.
I call it my personal Eiffel Tower. I know it only transfers telephone signals, but, to me, it is topped by a revolving restaurant with the best of Paris at its feet.
Well, that was my imagination. Until I realized there is a type of restaurant up there.
The other day I was sitting at the edge of the pool catching up on the latest goings-on in my former country through the graces of my electronic version of The Economist, when I noticed several large objects on the tower. And they seemed to be moving. Not just moving: flying.
My Eiffel Tower is a roosting place for about 20 or so buzzards. Before all of you birders start peppering me with buckshot email, I know they are not buzzards. But that is what we called them in Powers.
They are vultures. I could not make out the color of their heads because my binoculars took French leave with my stolen backpack. Turkey vultures have red heads. Black vultures have -- well, black heads.
One finally flew right over the courtyard. A bright red, bald head. Turkey vultures they are. Zopilote cabercirrojo, according to Lupe, the very efficient pool guy.
There has been some loose talk here about christening The House with a far more-meaningful name. I am happy to leave it in peace.
But I am happy to re-name the Eiffel Tower in my backyard to la torre de los zopilotes. And there may be some ideas for my own place embedded in there. The House on Buzzard Hill. Buzzard Gulch. Casa de Zopilotes. You get the drift.
In truth, they are fascinating to watch. Especially when all of them launch and soar over the house for several minutes looking for those opportune updrafts.
They are not crocodiles. But they will do.