A firefinch lands on the clay bowl, pecks at sunflower seeds soggy from the rain. I haven’t seen one in so long, have forgotten its unexpected redness, the colour of blood, of pomegranates.
P and I brew a pot of dark Kenyan tea to house our new Kombucha culture, gifted from a neighbour. We name him Bucho, call him our new pet, exclaim over his large lips grinning through the glass vase. Later M runs from the kitchen screaming when she hears he is alive. “I thought you wanted a pet!” I call after her. “Not one that actually lives and eats!” P smiles and touches the glass with affection.
There is a gathering of birds beside the porch, in one instant I see a streaky seed eater, a robin chat, two firefinches and three bronze mannekins. I feel privileged to move alongside this grand society.
P rollerblades through the house, plays loudly on the plastic recorder hanging around her neck, stops only to slide down the stairs on her bottom.
I walk to the forest after the girls are in bed, stumble over bumps on the dark gravelly path. Security lights glow yellow behind the leaves, send long shadows over the ground. I am most surprised by the noise, the bellowing frogs, the screeching chorus of crickets. These days the headlines describe black holes, different dimensions, while I am astounded at the unknown universe that exists in the valley below my house, these night creatures, this noisy civilization.
The trees smell different in the night, the boundaries between their smells more distinct. My vocabulary of smells is so limited in the face of all this diversity, the scent of each tree’s breath: some are sharp, clinical, others are rounder, warmer. I hold their breath in my lungs. When I touch the smooth trunk of a small tree I am startled at its warmth, wonder if it is the afterglow of the Kenyan sun or the heat of its own growing.