It was a grim thought as we watched it disappear under a croton in the garden. But it was not the only case. Even in our nicely clipped suburban garden in amongst these perfect little houses with different colour roofs, the harsh back and forth of the natural world would play out. We came back from a meal out one night, having driven from the nearby village of Pereybere through a storm of rain and wind, sugar cane fronds, leaves and the occasional branch strewn across the coast road. We turned into the relative calm of our compound and as the car swung into our driveway the headlights caught a bird perched on one of our chairs in the car port. It was only an ordinary pigeon. It made no attempt to move as the three of us approached it, its wing feathers were ruffled badly, its neck was exposed and its eyes looked fatigued. It basically looked like a bird on its last legs. Mike, often one of the most abrasive souls around, took an unusual pity on the poor creature. He retrieved some peanuts and placed them on a table close to the chair on which the bird was perched. He said “this wretch probably won’t get through the night”. It must have been flying out in the storm, maybe got lost, maybe not able to land, possibly even battered by twigs and rain as it tossed and turned in the squally weather. It looked like it had been fighting the wind for hours. If anyone could ever show complete exhaustion, this was it. We went to bed feeling rather sober.
Next morning we came down. No pigeon in sight. We all thought it had gone off into the bushes and died. We’d started feeding the birds bits of leftover bread and birdseed and they were all waiting expectantly for us. As we had breakfast a pigeon flew in. It was bright and bouncy, fighting the other birds over the morsels of food scattered across the car port. We noticed that its neck was straggly in the same way as the bird the night before. It couldn’t be? Really? It looked very similar to be sure. But this bird was as energetic as a six year old child at a birthday party. How could it have recovered so much in so little time? Mike was incensed. He’d wasted a load of his sparing sympathy on this bird, not to mention a tin of nuts. “I’ll wring the little bastard’s neck for taking me for granted” he shouted, but we were all relieved to see a happy outcome.