Spring affects everyone differently. The clear crisp air, the scent of Peshawar's orange blossoms and the dazzling gold of the Husan Bahar, all encourage one to fall in love with life and nature. In one way or another, the glorious out-pouring of spring affect the birds and the bees, just as they do people. Yesterday, while enjoying the fresh spring morning I witnessed a strange phenomenon. Our pet Drake was chasing the Crane.

It all started last summer when Scamp, our spaniel, had set out on a private 'shikaar'. The next morning we found the dead duck among the bushes. It was many days before we went to the `Chargano Bazaar', to get a mate for the lonely Drake. Meanwhile, true to his inherent maleness, the Drake did not mope for too long. Before you could say `dead duck', he was on extremely friendly terms with one of the Cranes. We were glad of the budding friendship, as the previous spring one of our four Cranes had flown back to Siberia. (I wished him God-speed:) Since then, his mate had been the odd one out. The other Crane would not let her near them. Exhibiting typical female behaviour, she shielded her mate from all unattached females.

Anyway, we were glad that the two lonely hearts had hit it off so well. It was quite another thing when we finally went to all the trouble of buying a Duck, and the Drake proceeded to ignore her, preferring the Crane's company.

As time went on, the Duck finally succeeded in winning a place in the Drake's heart. The Duck, the Drake and the Crane were inseparable. That was a pretty good thing we believed, as the Crane became their protectress. She sheltered the couple from Scamp's unwelcome attentions. One look at the threatening Crane, with ruffled neck and wings out-stretched, emitting an ear-splitting `CRRAAACK', and Scamp left with his tail between his legs. All summer and winter the three formed the coziest `maison a trois'. When the Ducks went for a swim, the Crane waited patiently on the edge of the pond. When the Crane exercised her wings, the Drake waddled as fast as he could after her.

Time went on and everything was normal. That is, it was normal until spring burst forth in Peshawar. Taking a break from my work, I went out to the garden to relax. Whooosh! The Crane dashed past, a look of terror in its red eyes. The Crane was followed by the Drake, and the Drake by the Duck. At first I thought this mad race had been set in motion by Scamp's `playfulness'. Then I noticed that the Drake was nodding his head up and down, in the most ducky-inviting fashion. He would have bowled over the most hard-hearted Duck, but this was another cup of tea altogether. This was a Siberian Crane who expected to be wooed in a slightly different fashion.

Watching the Drake chasing the Crane, I was amused. My amusement was not only at the sight the odd couple presented, but at Nature itself. The Drake, like any hot-blooded male, could not differentiate between the Crane's friendship and sex. With the hormones coursing through his veins, he believed the whole world was as affected as he.

Many a beautiful friendship founders because of this male shortsightedness. Men, not unlike the Drake, often do not realize that the female of any species is not as hormone driven. For the female there is a great difference between love and friendship. I do not mean that the ` 'twain shall never meet', as they frequently do. What I do mean is that when a woman falls in love, it is often for more prosaic and practical reasons than a handful of hormones.

When the effect of the hormones wears off, the male is frequently seen hanging around strange females. It is a scientific fact that, when a new female is introduced into a male white rat's cage, his libido gets a new lease of life. This innate male faithlessness drives a female to react. It is this reaction, frequently devious and sometimes violent, that encourages the belief that the female of a species is more dangerous. When he finally gets his just desserts, which he always does, the testosterone-driven male is bewildered. He often does not know what has hit him as his thinking is usually clouded by over-active hormones.

It is true, the female sometimes jumps the gun and over reacts. The black widow spider is known to kill her mate before he has a chance of thinking of another. That is why all the females of that species of spiders are called black widows, no male has ever lived beyond the first mating. Who can say, maybe that is why there is so much peace in Black-Widow Spider Land!

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