It felt strangely cruel to remove Dad from our family WhatsApp group, so we left it preserved and made a new one for the three of us. G put the dog as its profile picture and called it Alice’s Humans, or, to be accurate, Alice’s Hoomans. Never one for sensitivity, I pointed out that we’d only be back at this crossroads when the dog died. But it works for now.
Mostly we send photos. G lives in the countryside so he sends ones of lambs and I pass on shots of the possum that has taken up residence on our balcony back in Melbourne. Mum and G exchange pictures of their gardens and the birds that visit.
The hot May has given way to a murky June, but birds are on a strict seasonal timetable whatever the weather so the feeder is doing a roaring trade. Once or twice it has run out and the birds have written a strongly worded – even slightly emotionally manipulative – complaint letter to Mum in a lovely cursive that is not unlike my own. An effective method.
The sparrow babies emerged from the nest this week. They are amusingly fat with down and sit in the safety of the bush while their mum and dad fly back and forth from the feeder. They watch and flap their tiny, inefficient wings wildly in a way that made me and Mum think they were trying to fly themselves, but G says means feed me.
The goldfinches are the most beautiful of course. And the great tits run a close second with that big black stripe down their almost-neon chests. There are a pair of scrappy blue tits I like who have been run literally ragged by their own demanding babies. Though it’s the sparrows Mum and G are most excited about. But that’s because they actually know something about conservation, whereas I only care about looks.
A version of this post was sent by email on the 14th June 2020 as part of Internet Care Package – a weekly memoir project in the form of a newsletter. It also includes links to the best things I’ve found on the internet each week and occasional updates on my theatremaking. This blog is a select archive of those emails. Subscribe to get them right in your inbox.