“He’s After Us, Mum”

Today’s welkin canopy was a dismal, leaking, colander riddled with humid vapour.

At mid-morning we drove to Hockey’s Farm Shop for brunch in their re-opened café.

The recently completed thatched roof across the road in Gorley Lynch bears effigies of a fox stalking a row of ducklings following their mother along the crown of the roof. The little one bringing up the rear turns and surely must be alerting mother with “he’s after us, Mum”. She, however, carries on regardless, well aware that he will never catch them.

The shallow stream flowing over the ford at Ibsley bore glassy reflections, and

a drinking pony which, having tempted me out of the car, lifted its head, took one look, and calmly ambled off up the hill.

The longer Chekhov story I read this afternoon uses its division into 8 short chapters to vary the settings and to focus on different relationships of the main protagonists, much like the acts in a play – in this case a tragedy. I will try to review the work without giving away the details of the tale.

Normally translated as ‘The Grasshopper’, Elisaveta Fen, our translator, has opted to call this ‘The Dragonfly’, because she sees the flighty young female lead as ‘a dragonfly darting about between flowers in pursuit of its prey’.

Essentially we have a struggle between the calm common sense of science and the more immediate attractions of art. Fen offers the opinion that this is ‘exceptional among Chekhov stories in that the ‘artistic’ milieu……is portrayed with a hint of acidity, not to say maliciousness, which suggests a degree of personal grudge against the ‘artists’, who all but ignore the existence of the ‘scientists’, including doctors of medicine, and seem to hold them in contempt.’

This is how illustrator Nigel Lambourne has pictured ‘ ‘Dymov,’ Olga told him, ‘You reject both music and painting’

The narrative is well crafted with deceptively simple language conveying vivid descriptions of place, surroundings, and personnel.

This evening I finished the jalfrezi meal with more of the Cabernet Sauvignon, while Jackie enjoyed egg, chips, and onion rings with the last of the rosé.


      1. We sure do, Yolanda. It’s part of a regional dialect in the northeast of the States. My parents always used that word. I also say Windah, instead of Window, there are other words that are pronounced different too. People here in Vegas have asked me where I am from!

  1. The roofers are SO talented! Such a lovely way to leave their mark.
    I think the drinking pony who ambled off was doing an impression of a cow – he looks just like an Ayrshire!

  2. I like the pretty pony and glassy reflections. I was a little worried about the ducklings but will take comfort that the fox will never catch up with them.

  3. That is quite the scene with the fox creeping up on the ducks. Art vs. science? I don’t think that is the situation now. In our country, it is the far right vs. science. Somehow, science remains under the gun.

  4. The thatcher has told his story exceedingly well, quite like Chekhov, and you have provided it a most apt caption. The picture of the shallow stream is beautiful. Thanks for refreshing my memory with Russian classics.

  5. Love the adventurous ones on the roof top! 🙂
    The reflection photo and the pretty pony photo are lovely! 🙂
    Thanks for sharing the Chekhov story with us.
    Sorry to hear about the canopy.
    (((HUGS))) 🙂

  6. I love the thatched roof.
    Sometimes we see the female duck taking her ducklings for a walk across the fields (between ponds), but gradually over time the line becomes shorter and shorter, we always assume a fox has paid a visit.

  7. If it’s any help “dim” means smoke in Russian and “dimock” means “smoke, puff, plume of smoke, whiff”. Perhaps the name was chosen deliberately.

  8. I love a good thatched roof, especially an artistic one! Looks like you and Jackie had a nice day for an outing. I enjoyed your analysis of Chekhov’s story, too.

  9. Great roof decoration. I think you are the only writer to use the word welkin since the 1930s. I like a good revival. I have recently been pondering the merits of cerulean, cicatrice and rictus. I dn’t know if I dare…

  10. I had a strong reaction towards this illustration, Derrick. Chekhov’s Dymov is an exceptionally kind and forgiving person, as well as an outstanding scientist. I have not perceived these qualities in Lambourne’s portrayal of him. I had thought that perhaps, after so many years, I didn’t remember the story well, so a re-read it, and my impression was confirmed. I do understand translators struggling with the title; in the original, it is ‘Jumping / hopping female’ as one word. Grasshopper is closer to it, but dragonfly brings to one’s mind the La Fontaine’s fable, thus lending the story an additional layer of meaning.

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