Some of these short stories appeared every Sunday earlier this year on Astro’s Adventures Book Club, part of Susan Day’s wonderful initiative to “put the ‘grand’ back into being happy grandparents”. To read more about it, please follow their blog links at the bottom of this page. Thank you!
TOWARDS THE END OF JOSH and Kate’s summer holiday at their grandparents’ lodge, an urgent problem occurs among the feathered friends of the forest. At first, no one realises how bad it has been for the crimson-breasted shrikes. You might remember that they already lost their eggs earlier in the season when a pair of common mynas laid their own eggs in their nest, instead.
So, Child Monkey – being an observant little monkey most of the time – gibbers some clever words one day, which no one takes much notice of, except Wisdom, the spotted eagle-owl.
He has been back in his own favourite tree for a few days now, after he managed to give the common mynas “a bad experience” – we never quite found out how bad – but they’ve not been seen near the crimson-breasted shrikes’ nest for a few days, now.
‘Keep quiet, you jittery monkeys!’ Wisdom hoots and continues before they could make a racket again. ‘Child Monkey, get out from behind your mother’s back and repeat what you said just now,’ Wisdom hoots again, giving the poor little monkey a long, fixed stare.
‘I . . . noticed that our small feathered friends don’t have water, because the dogs’ water trough is empty before noon. Don’t birds need water too? Their new babies will die if they don’t get enough water, won’t they? And, I also overheard the striped kingfisher complain that he has nowhere to plunge-dive, let alone spread his wings on a rock to dry out. I feel sorry for all the birds!’ Child Monkey gibbers, but his eyes roll back in his head when he thinks that he might have gibbered too much – for a child. So, he quickly dives behind his mother’s back – just in case he chattered about something that could be called “monkey business”.
‘I would like to think that this chattering could be called “monkey business”, but Child Monkey is right. We must let the children’s grandparents understand that they will have to make a pond and while they’re at it, they might as well add a waterfall for the striped kingfisher,’ Wisdom hoots.
‘You can hoot and gibber as much you like, but don’t expect me to go to the kitchen for anything, except if there’s a watermelon I might like,’ the honey badger lets everyone know that he has been listening to their chat as well.
‘Did you say “watermelon”?’ the pangolin asks. He briefly shows his head from among the shadows in the undergrowth, but disappears as fast as he can into an anthill when it looks as if the honey badger might like to have him for dinner. The honey badger replies, ‘Yes, I did and for a bird that’s supposed to be clever, you can sometimes be stupid, Wisdom. A watermelon is full of water, so why not leave one outside? I’ll crack it open and leave a l-i-i-i-t-l-e bit on the table over there. I’m sure the birds will love its sweet taste – almost as good as a honeycomb.’
‘Hmmm . . . that’ll help. Storm the kitchen and get done, Honey Badger! But more action is needed. This is just a quick-fix for the day. Let’s think about it and every one of you monkeys had better come up with an idea – not monkey business – by tomorrow,’ Wisdom hoots, scaring the monkeys stiff. *
*Images come from https://pixabay.com/
Sunday Short Story – Of Waterfalls and Bird Baths – part one appeared in ASTRO’S ADVENTURES BOOK CLUB under’WILD THINGS’. http://www.astrosadventuresbookclub.com/of-waterfalls-and-bird-baths-by-maretha-botha-part-1/
Things in the kitchen have been less than ideal. You might remember that Honey Badger was told by Wisdom, the spotted eagle owl, to grab a watermelon, crack it open and leave a few pieces for the birds on Grandpa’s barbecue table. So, seeing the shambles in the kitchen, Grandpa is not impressed when he wants to make an early barbecue for his grandchildren.
‘The mess on this table is unbelievable!’ he says to Grandma, who stands with her hands on her hips. ‘What are we going to do about that honey badger’s shenanigans? He’s getting almost as bad as the monkeys when they come close to the kitchen.’
‘What things are “shenanigans”, Grandma?’ Josh wants to know.
‘Hmmm . . . I suppose it’s just another word for getting into mischief. If the monkeys were responsible for the mess, I would say that they are up to monkey business,’ Grandma tries to explain, but the children are already thinking about something else.
‘Grandma, let’s go outside. I noticed that the birds are having fun slipping and sliding on the watermelon pieces. They’re also sipping all its droplets – just look at that crimson-breasted shrike. He throws his head back while drinking all the lovely watermelon juice. I’m going to sneak up on them and try to make a video of their antics – just look at the chickens – they’re all joining in the fun. My friends at school will be happy to learn more about the wild birds here at the lodge. It would be great if they always have some water to play in. Maybe the honey badger did them a favour,’ Kate says, sounding very grown-up.
‘Grandpa, I think we must build a small pond with a waterfall and lots of rocks for the birds, because they can’t really swim in watermelon juice, can they? And it’s been so hot! I’m glad we have a swimming pool at the back of the lodge!’ little Josh says, glad that his Grandfather agrees, nodding his head slowly while wiping sweat off his brow.
‘I agree. Even though we have everything, the birds seem to have a real problem. Let’s go see what we need to build a small pond. Grandma and Kate can find ideas, looking at some pictures on the Internet in the meantime,’ Grandpa suggests.
If the family looked up into the nearby tree, they might’ve spotted the monkeys giving each other Hi-Fives, well monkey kind of Hi-Fives – chattering more and knocking their palms on their heads. The honey badger is also not too be seen anywhere. He’s following SweetTweet, the honey-guide, to another sweet spot where he hopes to find honeycombs deep inside a crag – even watermelon juice can get boring for a honey badger. He wants to lie on his back, licking a dripping honeycomb, and no longer worry about the birds, a pond or watermelon pieces on the barbecue table.
Don’t forget to look out for part 3 and 4 which will follow soon! Thank you for visiting our Fauna Park Tales blog today. Should you wish, please feel free to comment and follow us. Thank you!
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