It's been a while since I've solved a mystery in our local area.
Forgive me for the simplicity because it was mysterious for only a couple of seconds but sometimes it's nice to have an easy answer, isn't it?
Every morning and early evening these pigeons arrive at a particular location and wait patiently.
When the roof guttering is full, the brave and the late wait on the footpath, not even bothering to scatter when high school kids, scooters and joggers pass by.
It is only when they see Milly walking with me that they look concerned but even then, no real escape plan is enacted unless we are on their side of the street. Then they head straight for the powerline, cluck-whirring amongst themselves in disapproval and relief.
We walked by for over a week, wondering just what or who they were waiting for, noticing that even the sullen kids in low-slung jeans and booming iPods usually quick with a 'Far Queue' to wedge in between every second word of their shouted conversations were careful to step around them.
On our way back from dropping Sapphire off at school the front door opened.
Out came a little old lady with bags of day-old bread ready to feed them.
Pulling Milly's lead made her sit down obediently as we watched from a safe distance across the street.
I called out, thankful that Sapphire wasn't there to roll her eyes in embarrassment and tell me to shoosh. "Hi, I'm from (I turned around to point) - Number 49; the house that looks like a big purpley-brown brick. I'd love to come and chat to you but I'm afraid that Milly (I bent down to pat her neck) might scare away your friends there."
"Yes yes," the lady nodded. "I see you and your daughter every day. To school." Her English was hesitant, but her smile was lovely.
"Yes yes," I nodded back, unintentionally mirroring her. "Her name is Sapphire and mine is Kath. Dog here is Milly."
"I am Chin," she replied, pointing to her chest. "My pets," she said, sweeping one hand over the scene of happily eating birds on the ground and throwing them some more bread with the other.
"Where do you get so much bread?"
"One dollar. Safeway. Day old Bread. Very good, very cheap," she said.
That was little over a year ago. Since then, we pass by, note the two hundred or so pigeons waiting around for Chin and wave if she's already out there with her bread, tearing it into chunks for the birds. "It must take her ages doing that," Sapphire noted. "And she does it every single day."
We never got beyond a wave and a "Hello" to each other from across the street after meeting the first time, until last weekend.
Sapphire and Love Chunks were on a bike ride by the river, and Milly and I trotted to the school yard to do our weekly round of litter collecting. Long-handled BBQ tongs and plastic bags for me; free reign and plenty of discarded Red Rooster chicken bones and squashed chips for Milly to sniff out.
Picking up litter seems boring and pointless, but it is surprisingly rewarding. Milly gets to scamper around the peppercorn trees and and I get to think whilst doing something manual. Sometimes a walker or bike rider will say "Good on yer" as they pass but mostly we're on our own.
Less than half an hour later our job was done. We strolled past the front of Chin's house, the pigeons now lolling about looking rather satisfied, some cluck-whirring to each other like party guests overstaying their welcome.
The front door opened and the birds obediently moved aside to let Chin approach us. "Here. For you." It was a satin pillow with tiny beads and sequins sewn on intricately in a butterfly shape.
Tears made the details a bit fuzzy. "Oh no," I swallowed. "This is too lovely. You keep it."
She patted my shoulder. "Yes yes for you. You do good. Give to daughter."
I wiped my eyes and smiled back at her.
"I will. And thank you."
"I will. And thank you."
Her roof may now be white with pigeon poo, but her heart is huge.