Jaak’s Cabin – The Valleys
The music, feasting and dancing the night before at the forest music festival had lasted until long after midnight. With the the longer daylight hours and shorter nights it was almost dawn again by the time the last of the valley’s inhabitants finally retreated to their respective abodes. All who had attended were in firm agreement on two things. Firstly was that Asha had once again totally surpassed herself with her cooking of the fish, and secondly was that Gazza’s playing of his banjo was vastly superior to his singing.
Jaak and Altai were also home very late or very early depending on how you looked at it. It was fully daylight with the sun shining determinedly in through the gap in the curtains by the time either of them stirred.
Altai was the first up so he poked the fire back into life, and put the coffee on to brew. He had been making a determined effort to work less Saturdays and be around more on the weekends. He busied himself making a large stack of toast – sure that the combined aroma of freshly brewed coffee and toast would soon find its way through into Jaak’s room. It did. Jaak’s door creaked open and he padded into the living area tousle-haired and clearly still half asleep.
Altai: Morning PJ.
Jaak made some kind of unintelligible noise in the back of his throat that barely counted as speech, as he passed Altai and continued on out the back door to visit the outhouse.
Altai couldn’t help but notice a prodigious tent at the front of Jaak’s boxers as he passed. The back door banged. The outhouse door creaked, and then banged shut behind the occupant on its spring. Jaak leaned his head on his arm against the back of the outhouse wall and shoved his boxers down with his free paw. He waited – eyes closed – his tail twitched a couple of times back and forth – he breathed in and out. After a few moments his morning glory managed to relax enough to allow his bladder to empty in a satisfying steaming stream. He inhaled deeply, yawned, opened his eyes, and blinked a couple of times – the gears of consciousness finally beginning to properly engage.
Dieter. He was coming today.
Now with his level of consciousness coming at least to periscope depth, he returned to the living area and sat at the table with Altai. He had now spied the stack of P&J toast piled high on a plate. Instinctively he reached for a piece and started eating.
Jaak: Deeehar is cmming tohhay.
Altai gave Jaak a parental look.
Altai: Dude – try finishing your mouthful – I can’t understand a thing you are saying.
Jaak stopped shoving more toast in his mouth and swallowed.
Jaak: Oh sorry Dad – I said – Dieter is coming today. My friend from Aoraki. He is flying in on the midday float plane.
Altai: Oh right! Yes you had mentioned that. Midday float plane eh.. well we better not be too tardy getting ready then, the landing lake is two valleys away and it will take half an hour to get there.
Jaak: What time is it?
Altai glanced behind Jaak at the clock on the mantle above the fire place.
Altai: Its nearly eleven now – we should aim to leave by about 11.30.
Jaak: Better get dressed then I guess.
Valley Air Landing Lake – Hot Creek River
The Valley Air landing lake was not a lake as such, but more a wider part of the Hot Creek River that flowed down from the Hot Rocks camping area at the highest point of the valleys.
Altai and Jaak pulled up a few minutes before noon. Soon they heard the buzzing drone of a plane’s engine approaching from further down the valley. It flew just overhead before it continued on a little further up the valley before making a full U turn, returning to smoothly touch down on the water towards the direction from which it had come. The planes floats produced an impressive trail of spray before the plane reached the end of the landing zone, where it then turned to taxi back towards the pontoon.
Altai and Jaak were waiting just inside the small terminal area that connected the two hangers. Jaak was eager to catch a first glimpse of his friend. As it turned out he did not even have to wait for the passengers to disembark – he could clearly see a very distinctive wet nose pressed very firmly against the plane’s window as it floated to a stop and the pilot cut the engine.
The handful of passengers climbed out one by one. Finally, an uber-excited mop of orange hair bounded out of the plane – almost knocking one of the shore crew-cats who was unloading luggage into the water. The startled crew-cat promptly let out a cry with an indignant – Mreyow!
The orange mop then caught sight of Jaak and it proceeded to prance and dance all around him in circles, tail wagging ninety to the dozen. The orange mop put its front paws up on Jaak’s shoulders, giving him several huge slobbery licks with its long lolling pink tongue.
Dieter: Arrroooff! Arrrooff! Arrrooff! Jaak! Jaak! Jaak! I’m here, I’m here, I’m here, and you’re here too! Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy, I missed you so much! I thought I was never ever ever, gonna see you again!!
Jaak: Gereoooffa me ya great slobbering goober! I’m perfectly capable of taking my own baths thank you! …and you see me just about every day on video chat!
Dieter: Aww! It’s just not the same!
This is gonna be the best summer ever!
Watching all of these goings on from a little bit of a distance, was Altai. He knew perfectly well that there were a few Hundels on Cyanos, mostly in Aoraki – he had even met and worked with one or two. On this particular day however, he had not expected to see one getting off the float plane right here in the valleys; and he certainly had no idea that Jaak’s friend who was coming to stay in his cabin for a few weeks was a hunde.
To say that Altai was speceist would be a little unfair, however he did like most people hold certain prejudices regarding other species. When it came to the Hundel there were just certain things about them in general, and their culture – that was just so different to his own – the licking – the sniffing – the barking. He braced himself internally to just get through the next few minutes at least without losing his composure.
Jaak: C’mon Dieter – com’n meet my Dad.
Jaak and Dieter walked over to Altai where he was standing a little awkwardly, his eyes slightly narrowed, with his tail ramrod straight behind him with just a slight curl at the end.
Jaak: Dieter this is my Dad – Altai.
Dieter still excited as he was, did manage to sense that jumping up all over Altai at this point might not be the right thing to do – so he approached a little pensively with his head tilted slightly down, his ears slightly back and his eyes up. He promptly sat back on his haunches with his arms out in front and tilted his head slightly to one side.
Dieter: Arrowff? Hello Altai!
He thumped his tail a couple of times on on the floor for good measure.
A moment or two passed and whether consciously or not, Altai visibly relaxed, crouched down and gave Dieter a small rub on his chest.
Altai: Hello Dieter – welcome to the valleys.
With this Dieter leapt up and started to enthusiastically sniff Altai all over – finally giving Altai one long lolling lick up the side of his face.
Managing to hold his composure, rather than let out the indignant hiss that his feline instincts were screaming for, Altai simply stood, nodded and gave his face a surreptitious wipe.
Altai: Right – let’s head out to the pickup then.
The three of them headed over to the pickup and Dieter’s duffel bag was put into the tray. Just as they were all about to get into the pickup, Dieter suddenly ran over to the nearest tree, unzipped his pants and gave it a good watering. Altai and Jaak exchanged glances – both of them thinking the same thing but for different reasons.
This – is going to be an interesting few weeks.
On returning Dieter then promptly licked the pickup’s front tyre.
Dieter: Yay! – Dibs! I get to sit by the window!
Altai, Jaak and Dieter set off in the pickup to head back to the cabin – Dieter with his head out the window taking in all the glorious new sights and smells – occasionally barking a happy greeting to any startled pedestrians that they passed along the way.