“GREBE sp!! Get a picture!”
This time of year makes great demands on Lady Helen’s patience.
“A picture of what?”
“That truck. The one that looks like a grebe sp., of course.”
“I have become accustomed to your unexpected ejaculations, Gannet Dear,” she sighed, “but I simply do not know what you are talking about.”
I must commend her for her forbearance. Birdwatching whilst driving has always brought an element of drama to our outings, but now that summer is upon us, the illusion of seeing birds where there are none brings a thrill to even the shortest journey.
“During the summer,” I tried to explain, “the birds moult and stay hidden. Birdwatching is not so rewarding, so I look for other things that might remind me of birds.”
“And how exactly does a low-loader carrying a couple of cherry-pickers call to mind a bird?”
For all her virtues, Lady Helen can be obtuse.
“It’s the way that grebe chicks ride on the adult’s back. Don’t you see?” Her non-commital “Hmmmm…” made me suspect that she was trying to remember our doctor’s phone number.
“Look at that yellow car with the dark sunroof. Is that not reminiscent of a Wilson’s Warbler?”
“Drop me at the pharmacist,” was her response, “we obviously need to up your doseage.”
The converstaion was dropped until I returned from Dubai and showed her my picture of some Dusky Cranes.
“Now you’re just making it up!”
“How about this one?” I ventured. “A Rose-flanked Roller.”
For all her obtuseness, Lady Helen does have some virtues. She checked my medication schedule again, worried that she must have forgotten the pink tablets.
“And what, may I ask, is that?” She enquired in pained, widely-separated syllables.
“This is the range-restricted Schuylkill River Rail; the pride of Philadelphia.” I replied, shrinking beneath her glare.
“Surely it’s too easy if you just make up species.” She said. “You could invent any old rubbish. Why don’t you find equivalents for proper, accepted species?”
“Oooh no. That would be far too difficult.”
“Nonsense.” She replied. “You’ll just have to apply yourself a little more diligently. Now put this away before I hit you with it again.”