For several weeks I've been wondering if some Aussie litter bugs had taken residence in Geneva because the local park has been festooned with McDonald's bags, coke cups and burger wrappers.
To make matters worse, the rubbish has all been dumped right next to the bins in a rude 'up yours' to the SCRASA* employees who dutifully sweep the streets and tidy the parks first thing every morning.
However, today I found out who the filthy fools were - black crows. Milly was off sniffing the side of the road that is dotted with tiny rabbit burrows and as I enjoyed the view of the city, several of the blighters landed on the edge of the bin and proceeded to remove every item they could carry, drop it on the ground and have a good old peck and feed. Who knew that our feathered friends had a thing for stone cold fries and abandoned pickles?
Returning from my run this morning, I stood out on our eighth floor balcony to cool off. It's been a rare day because the fog had lifted and, despite predictions, there was still no snow on top of the Jura mountain range.
My attention therefore turned to the garden below where, if I'm patient, the quivering leaves reveal squirrels leaping athletically from tree to tree. Apparently they're scientifically known as 'Sciurus Vulgaris' which seems a little bit uncharitable. Any creature who can tell off my dog in a sharp little wittering tone and still hold a couple of acorns in its cheeks whilst jumping to safety deserves a nomenclature considerably more flattering in my opinion.
On the grass; that acreage of pristine green growing velvet that no dog or human is allowed to sit or walk on, a shadowy shape emerged, stretching itself with a lazy confidence that only a frequent visitor can pull off.
At first glance, I thought it was a ginger tabby cat, but as it scratched its ears with a hind leg and faced the rising sun, the fluffy tail revealed that it was a fox.
I'd never seen one during the day, let alone here, of all places. A huge apartment building housing several hundred people on one side of the narrow garden and a senior high school on the other, and it seemingly in no hurry or overtly alert to any dangers.
What did it eat? Lazy, ground-bound squirrels? The ginger cat normally seen but not today? Leftovers thrown over the fence by fussy teens? Kidnapped sparrows offered as food alternatives by nervous Sciurus Vulgarii keen to avoid becoming the meal of choice themselves?
No matter; I had to get ready for a brocante with three friends. 'Brocante' sounds better than a flea market and the one in Plainpalais often features more trash than treasure but it is exerting a strange power over me. My visits have become weekly and what initially seemed like a heap of junk that turned me into a female Darryl Kernigan muttering 'They're dreamin' when the price tags were shown has now become an opportunity to leisurely rummage and spot a bargain.
A tiny tin caught my eye. "Combien, monsieur?"
Twenty francs. No way Jose. I shook my head and was about to move onto the next stall.
He called out something to me, but I didn't understand and didn't particularly care as my attention was now on a box of dusty old art books.
He tried again, this time commenting to his friend and they both laughed. Now I may spend a goodly part of my life here in a bubble of ignorant bliss when it comes to the language spoken around me, but I know a ribald snigger when I hear it.
I tapped Monique's shoulder. She's French Canadian and despite being in the company of three Aussie women would have understood every single word. "What did he---" I thumbed back to the man now holding up a fox fur stole for a customer "----say about me just then?"
She took her time answering, which can't have been a good thing. "Um he said he'd shave for you."
My eyebrows are blonde and therefore invisible, but even she could see that I had one raised in that 'oh come off it' expression. "Monique, I can handle it."
Her cheeks flushed red. "Um he said he'd um, have a shave and then um, be ready to, ahh, do a few rude things to you if you'd buy the tin for twenty francs."
Not sure if I was supposed to be insulted or complimented, I called out, "Dix."
He nodded. My offer of ten francs was accepted and I gently placed the tin in my pocket. Maybe he'd eaten the goodies inside which was why he'd so cheaply offered his sexual services?
* No, I have no idea what SCRASA stands for either. They are efficient and friendly blokes but the acronym reminds me of something you'd want the doctor to remove.