Rustic Universe

Rustic Universe

         The day was pleasant with the promise of spring as I sat in my wooden latticed garden chair with a cup of tea and some slices of bread. Idly I scanned my territory, the shed stood as if in a military salute while the bird bath and table awaited their orders. I watched the sleek white cat, a handsome and shrewd visitor to these parts, as he checked the bath, for what I suspect was hunger rather than thirst.
I sometimes berated the furry little fellow for the birds are my friends also, but I knew this was in vain for he cannot help pursue as I cannot help breathe. The sun was getting warmer and I became convinced the day was going to be upgraded in my mind from ‘splendid’ to ‘glorious.’
The feline, as if to continuously steal my attention, first tactically lay beside me and when that ruse failed he resorted to swishing his body round my legs, which I must confess, did work for a while.
As the lovely gulps of hot tea refreshed and vitalised my organs and the last of the bread disappeared, I was lost in what one could consider to be a pleasant nothingness, it was then that a little sparrow perched himself on the
branches of my apple tree and chirped violently.
I looked at him and smiled. He twitched his head in my direction and said, ‘Hello.’
Flabbergasted, I choked on my last mouthful of tea.
‘But you can’t talk!’ I protested.
‘Says who?’ the little bird responded.
‘Well, says I … I suppose’ I said, silently questioning my entire education.
‘Just because one chooses not to speak does not mean that one cannot speak.’
‘Forgive my ignorance. It is just that you have startled me somewhat as have I been educated to believe that Sparrows or indeed animals cannot speak.’
I crossed my legs to gain a little comfort upon saying this. Rubbing my eyes I double checked the Brandy bottle upon my drinks table which was viewable through a large glass pane - lest I had attacked it the night before and had forgotten.
‘Perhaps a wiser education would be more prudent.’ the little bird said, adjusting its position upon the branch, presumably for comfort.
‘Perhaps indeed.’ I answered still flummoxed in my thoughts. ‘How did you become so clever?’ I inquired.
‘Clever - in meaning - how did I learn to speak?’
This wasn’t exactly what I had meant by the question but as it was a good enough question in itself I allowed the assumed line of inquiry to continue. ‘Yes.’ I answered.
‘My mother taught me! Really have you no manners my good sir.’ The Sparrow stood up and moved back and forth along the branch as if greatly offended.
‘Again I must apologise, upon hearing you speak, my etiquette seems to have been impacted somewhat.’
‘Yes I would say it has,’ and for the first time since he begun to talk the bird cheeped loudly.
‘What I meant to say was, how come you speak so well, your diction and knowledge of our wondrous lexicon is nothing short of remarkable?’
‘Can I ask you something, have you ever seen a dead sparrow?’
‘Nary.’ I replied.
‘That is because we are too cunning, we love nothing better than to tease felines and even other birds, we are much smarter and craftier than say the starling, crow or pigeon and yet no one pays any attention to us, does not that insinuate a profound wisdom in itself?’
‘I never thought of it like that, or perhaps I should say I have never given it much thought, yet everything you say makes sense.’
‘And do we not hear every conversation from every person out of doors, and do we not speak to each other also?’
‘Why yes, I suppose you do.’
‘We could plot the downfall of man within the hour should we have more capability than that of a great mind.’
I could not help but marvel at the conversation that we were having, although somewhere within, the seeming arrogance of his answers began to grate.
‘But the question is would you choose to do so?’ I said, finding my annoyance impossible to hide through my sudden re-posturing.
‘It is now my turn to apologise. I have been less than gracious in my retort and of course you are right, and without seeming to contradict my contriteness, I must inform you that it is only the human species that seems to have the folly of warmongering. For us life is simple – delicate - yet pleasant and enjoyable.’
‘But you are exposed to the elements all year round?’
‘Are we not equipped? And what about the freedom, I have no territories or boundaries yet you are kept in a prison and furthermore one that you bought for yourself!’
I sat there for a moment and contemplated what the bird had said and found myself, for a second, feeling like a complete fool. It was then that I decided I would act as if it was a dream so I could continue without emotional outburst to my feathered interlocutor.
‘Your response invites in me a twisted but sound logic; I see how it would be hard to argue either one of us to be the wiser.’
The little bird flew down from its branch and sat on the table opposite me. I wondered for a minute whether he was after the crumbs on my breakfast plate and upon this thought, I then wondered whether I should offer him some, ‘mind your manners’ I remonstrated to myself.
‘That is subject of course to one’s ethos or even fancy.’ The Sparrow said.
‘Would you like a drink and some breakfast?’ said I, feeling overwhelmed by the urge to reciprocate the gesture of the Sparrow moving closer to me.
‘Thank you but I must decline as I have but recently eaten a large worm.’
‘A worm!’ said I, with more than a little protestation. ‘How does someone of your intelligence eat a worm?’
‘I will forego the obvious and facetious response that quick wittedness would demand and refer you back to our previous conversation. I find them as delicious as you would a fish or steak, are they not as vital to my physiology as the former are to yours.’
Again my feathered friend had flummoxed my brain and I began to imagine things from a peculiar point of view. ‘I remonstrate myself before you, for you seem to be the more civilised and maybe the more erudite.’
        ‘I merely beseech thee to be more accepting and understanding for you can find untold joy in it, I am astonished that for the most part you and your kind seem not to have grasped this simple premise.’
        ‘Perhaps there is much we can teach other.’
        ‘Perhaps you are right,’ said the sparrow.
        ‘Do you have a name my friend?’ I asked amiably.
        ‘Well you know me as Passer Domesticus.’
        I guffawed rather more loudly than would have been polite, but this time the bird seemed to be in a more humorous state as he let out a loud, shrill, cheep.
        It was then that there was a loud crash as the old wooden gate at the top of the garden swung inwards. The sparrow looked at me, flinched his head, cheeped a short sound and then flew off. Of course I could not claim to be accurate in this but I am sure he was cheeping ‘goodbye.’
        As soon as my feathered interlocutor abandoned me I hastened into the Parlour and frantically rifled the paperwork in my bureau, until I came to the very document that I was seeking.
        I hurried back out into the garden and sat back in my chair. After searching for my friend and finding no sign of him, I placed the papers down on the table and stared out into the garden in a preoccupied trance. In retrospect, a look of shock must have crossed my face at my friend’s departure and stayed with me, as my wife instantly registered something amiss when she finally came out into the garden to join me.
        ‘What on earth has happened to you?’ she required, holding a fresh pot of tea and walking past the iron grate with a confident familiarity known only to a house holder.
        Still somewhat preoccupied, I turned to the paperwork on my table and picked it up, it had been many years since I had looked upon the deeds to my house. Returning the papers to my breakfast table, I looked up at my wife with curious eyes, 'I've just had the queerest adventure,' said I.

© Copyright Jon S Jones (Jon-Jon)