The children were so interested to hear about their aunt & uncle's recent close encounter of the reptile kind. I'll let Ellie be the one to tell the details about the puff adder scare, but I'll just say that we've been researching this species a bit here...turns out Mr. Adder is Africa's most dangerous snake. (BTW, Ellie and all involved are perfectly safe. No one was bitten.) Our book tells us that the puff adder prefers to lie in wait for its victims & that its venom is highly toxic. Yikes.
We wondered if a pet mongoose might be in order (an inclination which is due to our love of Rikki-Tikki-Tavi), but it looks like the enemy list of puff adders doesn't include mongooses. I don't even know if mongooses live in TZ.
Related: We subscribe to a free iTunes podcast which we've really enjoyed over the past 2 years. ITt comes to my mind at the moment due to the Rikki-Tikki-Tavi story we love to listen to. Not all of their stories are wonderful, but many are. And there are many classics which are presented entirely unabridged. The podcast is called Story Nory. The reader is a pleasant British woman named Natasha. (In fact, when the children request one of these stories, they do so by asking for a "Natasha Story.")
Be ready for the originals--sometimes the content seems harsh compared to the highly-edited contemporary versions. (For example, if my memory is correct, the Story Nory version of Little Red Riding Hood ends with Little Red being eaten by the wolf. The End. Then Natasha says thanks for listening. !!! Not for very young listeners.)
Here are a few of our favorites:
In other news, we recently had the JOY (and I do mean JOY) of watching a family of baby birds hatch, grow, plump up, and then fly away. This is an interaction with creation that is pretty much on the opposite end of the spectrum from the puff adder incident....watching the birds was such a peaceful, beautiful, and miraculous experience!
The location of this nest was pretty amazing. It's like I had a little chat with Mama Bird prior to her decision to build her nest....."Could you please locate your nest in the absolute best viewing spot that we could ever imagine? Yes you can? Well, thank you."
The nest was directly outside our sunroom window. The windows can be raised from the bottom or lowered from the top...as you can see from the photo above, when we lowered the top window, we had an incredibly close-up view of the baby birds. (This involved the children standing on the ledge and peeking out the top of the window. I'm glad they never tumbled out. I was the holder-of-the-calves.)
We were very careful to never touch the nest. But we certainly did get some close-up looks. I'm afraid those baby birds might be in bird therapy someday with lots of early memories of two giant human faces looking down upon them. (Ha ha--hopefully not. Maybe the experience will make them fearless and brave--the William Wallaces of their bird community.)
The birds very quickly went from tiny, scrawny, and sleepy to puffy and alert. One day, when they were looking puffy and cozy, all cuddled together in their nest, we were in the sunroom and we saw a couple of the birds hop out onto the drain pipe. I thought it was a terrible mistake--they had wandered out of the nest and were about to fall in the bushes! Surely they were too young to be out of that nest! But the next thing we knew, they sort of jumped/fell off the drainpipe and made a clumsy drunken-like flight over to their mama, who was perched on the fence about six feet away. Our mouths all dropped open in amazement. I still can't believe that we happened to be in the room right at that exact moment.
There was one little bird left in the nest that afternoon. All of the others had flown away. I guess he/she wasn't ready yet. Aunt Allison happened to be visiting us that weekend & she was with us when we went to check on the one who was still left. Pumpkin pulled down the top of the window to peek in the nest to check on him and, before we knew it, he jumped out of that nest like a little jack-in-the-box and flew off to find his brothers and sisters. (at least that's our romanticized version of where he went. I honestly have no idea what they do when they fly away. Do they live with other birds? or alone?) Pumpkin thought it was so fun that Aunt Allison was there to say hello/goodbye to our last little bird.
Related: There is an absolutely wonderful children's picture book about John James Audubon which we are crazy about. It's called The Boy Who Drew Birds. I'll add a link to the booklist on the sidebar...this one is a must-see. It's amazing to read about how fascinated Audubon was with birds, even from an early age. And the illustrations in the book are magnificent.
Also related: Gorgeous bird prints can be found on Geninne's Art Blog. When you click through to her blog, look on the right for a link to her "20 Birds Series." Phenomonal. Geninne has an etsy shop, where she has had bird prints for sale in the past. I hope she puts more in the shop in the future, because I would love-love-love to buy a set of these.