Thursday, March 10, 2011

Creatures, great and small

I have said once or twice before how flattered the Vyases feel when wild creatures come visiting. We like stray cats and dogs to stay in the yard but we had a parrot swagger into our drawing room once and we nearly kept it.

Some part of our delight must’ve been due to this Enid Blyton that Shweta and I read over and over again as children. The Children of the Cherry Tree Farm had four city kids visit the English countryside. There they meet a wild man called Tammylan who introduces them to the wild. I’ve blogged about Tammylan before, here.

Blyton gets a lot of rap these days for very many reasons but as millions of our generation know, she gave us oh, so much joy and excitement. She held up all manner of traits we could emulate – if she made the aggressive Elizabeth Allen her protagonist in the Naughtiest Girl series, she could make an ideal of the shy, retiring sorts as well. In this book, Benjy is a timid, dreamy type of lad… unremarkable, except he has a deep quietude about him. He has “the low voice and the quiet hands of those who love the wild creatures”, and it is Benjy whom Tammylan first invites to come and meet his wild friends – rabbits, hares, snakes and badgers.

I suppose for children like me - susceptible to that sort of appeal - the capacity for being still became a virtue, reining in of unruly energy became a matter of discipline. We put our spins on what we receive but that was a good lesson, I’ve always thought. Needless to say, I longed to be Benjy. I have never succeeded with getting a squirrel to come to hand but I must tell you about this tailorbird.

He has been coming to roost in our back verandah everyday for more than a week now. It was spring-like weather and surely all god’s creatures must be out there, wooing and mating, building and breeding. And here was this fellow, coming to bed at 6.30 pm daily. He sits at the edge of this washing line, holding onto the wire, wedged tight against the roof and his head snug under the wing.

At first we were delighted. Shweta theorised that nest-building work was ongoing and that our tailorbird was here on a temporary basis. Now it does not appear to be the case – our bird has the air of someone who has found excellent living quarters going very cheap and does not mean to vacate it. Then worry struck. Was this tailorbird of a slacker ‘kaljugi’ generation… you know, just lazy? Had he not inherited the skills necessary to be ahead with the world? Preeti, who came by one day and caught sight of him by torchlight has been worried and seeking regular updates.

We have other problems also. For fear of disturbing this bird, we have been forced to forego use of the verandah every evening. Unfortunately, since he is perched just above the washbasin, it is very inconvenient.

However, we are now a little relieved of our concerns. The Wikipedia entry (which should have been consulted sooner) says:
“The birds roost alone during the non-breeding season but may roost side-by-side during the breeding season, sometimes with the newly fledged juvenile sandwiched between the adults. The roost sites chosen are thin twigs on trees with cover above them and were often close to human habitation and lights.”

So our guest is probably a carefree bachelor who has made do with a clothesline and roof – what’s life without a little jugaad? He likes the lights, so we don’t have to tiptoe around him. And he likes us, so that is a very, very good thing.


footloose said...

phew! kitta cute hai!

footloose said...

and he got the spot down to the last millimeter. you reckon he put out a classified on braigslist for a 'thin twig with a cover above it, preferably close to lights and humans'?

Sheetal said...

heheh. he's not here today, though :-(

deewaan said...

I say, while on Benjy, one mustn't forget the similarly animal-charming Phillip, from EB's 'Adventure' series [you know, the one that had titles like "ship of adventure", "valley of adventure" etc, and featured two brother-sister pairs (and Kiki the talking parrot!)]. The series used to be pretty much at top of my favourite list, probably bested only by the legendary Faraway Tree books...

Sheetal said...

Deewan, do you know, I've never read any from this 'Adventure' series! Kiki sounds familiar but I cannot remember more. I looked it up now and there are eight books! Just goes to show the gaps we leave in our education.

Thanks for tip - Adventure, here I come.