Perhaps because I picked up, on a whim, Dorothy L. Sayers’ Busman’s Honeymoon at the library the other day, the early morning sight of the chooks’ umbrella crushed in their run looked like the scene of a crime.

Crime scene: 7:17am

The chooks huddled in behind me muttering their suspicions as I examined and photographed the scene. Their perches had been rendered inaccessible by the collapse of their umbrella roof.

There had been no wind in the night nor anything else of a natural sort I could think of which would explain the catastrophe. After I’d shut the chooks in their run last evening, I did see next door’s cat skulking around as usual, but she’s a slight little thing. The umbrella was practically inverted.

I removed the umbrella, which involved untying the many pieces of string securing it. The chooks immediately reclaimed possession of their living room.

Ownership asserted: 7:20am

With its spokes broken and twisted, whichever way you look at it, the umbrella is past help.

I wouldn’t make a detective – I completely forgot to look for footprints – or paw prints – in the dusty soil. But, looking closely at the photo of the crime scene I can see what looks suspiciously like a chicken bone. This will have emerged from the chooks’ recent excavations where compost had been dug in before the area was a chicken run. I quickly palm any such evidence of my carnivorous lapses (which now rarely include chicken) to conceal my crime, but I must have missed this one. Is it a clue? Was it an inside job?

Scarier thought: That’s pretty much the spot where my cat Skipper was buried a few years ago… Should my inspiration be further from the diverting Dorothy L. Sayers and closer to the frightening Edgar Allen Poe?

Welcome back

It was with wonder and excitement that I realised I was taking from my letterbox a fresh, new copy of New Zealand Listener. Suddenly it was as if the mad, crazy world had righted itself. Today, the next issue arrived and it is beginning to feel real.

The magazine is as substantial as ever, with familiar columnists giving all manner of perspectives and global updates, in-depth features, quips and quotes, caption competition, cartoons, extensive reviews, and my favourite back page about two journalists who have given up the city for the ‘good life’. Like dessert, that’s the article I save for last.

It was a blow when the news came early this year that Bauer Media, which owned the magazine, was to stop publishing it – along with a number of other magazines which were part of its stable. Usually I pass my copies on to a friend, but she accepted my reasoning when I explained I wanted to hold on to the last few copies in case they were the last ever!

I pined and wondered what was happening to the staff, and particularly to my rural pair. Then news came that the magazine had been bought by another media company and that the former editor was reinstated and gathering back her staff. It seems they are just fine at ‘Lush Places’ and my rural pair’s first column ended with the birth of a lamb which they and their neighbours welcomed to the world. The column ended simply, “Welcome back to ours”.