“In every walk with nature, one receives far more than he seeks..” Dedicated to dad..

So as you may have gathered from the title my father was a bit of a naturalist. It probably resonated from his passion for biology, and the fact he had his science,biology and molecular pathology degrees etc ..The list goes on.

Anyway he always tried to instill the love of wildlife in all of his offspring and he was particularly thrilled when my youngest sister Beth returned home from school with her first ever nature project.

Dad was ecstatic at the prospect of flaunting his newly self constructed bird house, which stood precariously in the center of the small garden, both lopsided and flimsy.  His DIY skills were,and always had been,exceptionally poor. I recall the broken frame of my bed being held together by a towel and supported by bricks that had been retrieved from the back garden.

“Jessica listen to me now, do not roll on this, or move to much on this. Stay to the left and the middle of the mattress if possible. There is some sticky tape there if you have any issues yeah?”

I remember clinging desperately to the edge of that dreaded mattress, like a sailor on a broken raft during typhoon season.  I thought spitefully of those morons who stated that money couldn’t buy happiness. I would be pretty god dam happy with a new bed that was for certain.

The wooden bird house was constructed utilizing similar methods. Unfortunate Sparrows entered cautiously and at their own peril but were amply rewarded for their troubles.  My father had bought every possible brand and variety of Bird seed. Obesity became a prevalent problem within the tightly knit sparrow circle of Marino. So Rotund had the local sparrows become, that the Bird house creaked beneath them. Their little wings struggled to carry them. My father did not seem to be satisfied until each sparrow was fattened within an inch of its life. He got a great buzz out of stuffing them to the brim. Those brave puffed up popinjay minions, who managed to enter the birdhouse of horrors unscathed, deserved star treatment.

“Look how big and fat they are!” He said, a broad grin splayed across his face. He seemed to desire them to be bigger…fatter…. and for them to spread the word to all their friends. Sure enough, soon our garden was a popular destination for swarms of neighborhood sparrows. Our garden, to my slight discomfort, was black with them.

Dad had the novel idea of recording some of them for Beth’s nature project  The duo stood at the window excitedly anticipating the influx of birds, camera’s and binoculours at the ready.  Dad was slightly disappointed as very few sparrows seemed to appear in his moment of need.

” They have got too used to luxury brands, they are just normal nuts Beth, and they don’t like them half as much. Anyway take a few photos of that chap there, he’s a regular here”.

Beth complied, taking various photos of one hefty dozy looking sparrow. All of a sudden the nearby bush appeared to rustle and shake violently. Beth and dad both stopped what they were doing and stared in unison.  A humongous hawk emerged from the foliage, claws at the ready, his beak razor sharp. His amber eyes scanned the garden and he spotted the vulnerable sparrow with apparent ease.  The rippling sparrow puffed and panted trying desperately to spread his wings and fly to safety. The hawk was much too quick, and nose dived down upon the unfortunate creature, with the accuracy of a boeing jet. The sparrow was snatched up and carried away, to be devoured at a later time.

“THEY’VE JUST GONE OUT TO PLAY BETH, THEY ARE GREAT PALS THOSE TWO MADZERS”. Beth’s face had drained of all color, she was pale as snow white in her coffin.

“Are you sure dad?” Dad frantically nodded, smiling like a cheshire cat, beads of perspiration forming in the furrows of his brow.

Needless to say Beth’s project, to dads greatest pleasure, was one of the most interesting in the class.  Natural selection in action.


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