The guns are quiet. For now. Who knows when they will start again. I get a fright when they do. I jump then check my watch just in case someone has been murdered in the village and the police will need a witness to establish the exact time of death. I note the time on a scrap of paper and then forget where I put it.
The guns have no respect for the dark or for sleep. They blast randomly through the night. Visitors wake shaken if they got to sleep at all – shocked to realise they have landed in a war zone and not the bucolic Wairarapa promised by posters of beautiful people picnicking in sunny vineyards.
The guns blast throughout the day competing with conversations in restaurants, with bargains in shops, ceremonies in churches and lessons in schools. We who live here have grown accustomed to the battery. To being at war with birds.
The countryside is transformed with swags of white guarding grapes from the flighty.
Hawkes circle overhead searching the grassy avenues for mice and rabbits, unflinching in the battle of the blanks. House cats indifferent to boundaries and ordinance patrol the verges lying in wait for unsuspecting free loaders.
All this to preserve grapes nurtured on vines through the frosts of spring, the dull days of summer, the droughts of early autumn to get them to the harvest.
When the nets come off, it is every creature for themselves. The guns stop.
The harvesting machines rumble to the year’s conclusion.
The birds always come back.