Day 141: Build a bird nest.

I’m a day late on this – a first, and 38% of the way through the year, not bad – because I actually had a bird-thing to erect in the front yard, and didn’t have the time to do it yesterday. It’s not a birdhouse, but a bird-feeder: a diner, and not an extended-stay motel.

It’s actually Elanor’s bird-feeder, and she helped set it up, sort of: she told me what to do, and I did it, and then she chastised me when I spilled all some of the seed on the ground instead of into the feeder.

Her grandfather – my father-in-law, Kelley – “Poppy” – bought her the feeder, several weeks ago, at this point. He’s had one up in his backyard all spring, and he and the kids love watching the birds come and go (and watching the squirrels try, and fail, to climb the vaselined pole).

Kelley had to retire over a year ago, for health reasons – fairly extensive and painful neuropathy in his legs – and bird-watching is one of the hobbies he’s picked up to deal with the boredom and pain. He’s getting Ella interested, too, which is great: learning to pay attention to the natural world is important, and being able to identify the things one sees is a big part of that. It’s the part I never got very good at, despite the example my father set: he can give you the scientific and common names of pretty much anything you’re likely to encounter, at least in the parts of the world where he’s lived and/or worked.

Hopefully Ella will take after her grandfathers in this, and be able to say – not, like me, “Hey, look at that bird” – but, “Hey, look at that Hirundo spilodera, or African swallow, well-known from a scene in the film Monty Python and the Holy Grail where several characters are discussing how a coconut made it to England.”

I can’t really even take credit for the pop-culture knowledge, because I learned that from my father. Now, if Ella then launched into an extended and insightful (but boring to the people around her) analysis of the significance of it being an African swallow, and the importation of African/tropical commodities into England, and what it means that the coconut is empty, dry, hollow – and, further, why it’s crucial to recognize that the coconuts are replacing the horse, an animal first domesticated in the parts of central Asia where British colonial presence was always tenuous – and if she then points out that Arthur is trying to centralize power just by calling himself “King,” and segues into talking about the class hierarchy and exploitation of the worker going on here, which leads her to the anarcho-syndicalist peasants, at which point she realizes everyone’s left the room —— well, then, she got that from me.


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