When I was a kid, I loved the book My Family and Other Animals by Gerald Durrell, so I was delighted to find a copy of a BBC film version at the library and renew my acquaintance. The boy Gerry was passionately absorbed by his interest in zoology and only mildly inconvenienced by the efforts of his mother (played by the marvelous Imelda Staunton) to keep tabs on him during their stay on Corfu, and the quirks and (loud) complaints of his sister and brothers.
As I watched the movie, the leaves were dropping from the trees outside my windows but the birds had not yet moved to greener shrubberies.
So many chickadees picked at the bark and winkled seeds from the cones in the little fir that it looked like a vibrating Christmas tree decorated with songbirds. Juncoes, a Wilson’s warbler or two and a flock of something tiny and grey-brown swarmed in and out of the black hawthorn, coming and going like a houseful of adolescents on Red Bull. A hummingbird perched on a branch amongst them like a very small Imelda Staunton.
The Durrells were overtaken by global events and had to leave their Corfu paradise, but I’m keeping the wider world out of my garden, hoping that its selection of bugs, berries and seeds will be enough to entice my flighty neighbours to hang around. At least until Christmas; the chickadees are cuter than any decorations I could dream up.