This column, That Nature Show, is about the nature right under your nose: in our backyards, playgrounds and parks! Stop and look around, you’ll be amazed at what surrounds you.
Sunday June 15 Father’s Day. It is also known as The Day After My Birthday, When I Eat Leftover Cake for Breakfast. Although I could talk about how leftover cake is a divine breakfast, let’s talk about fathers.
My dog Sugar’s sire was a Bichon show dog with the name on his papers as Valiant Sir Wizard or something ridiculous, but the breeder called him Biscuit, and said he was “happy” and “good with children” which has translated in his daughter, my dog Sugar, as an appalling lack of stranger anxiety.
Fathers in nature run the gamut. And I’m not just talking about the dads at KOA campsites, trying to set up camp on a family camping trip. Mine emphatically does not camp. What he does is read King Lear in an easy chair. My dad is an English professor. “Elizabeth,” he says, “Did you read that article in The New Yorker?” And when I say no, I was doing the laundry, or driving the suburbs looking for towel sales, he’s says, “Focus.”
Certain frog fathers brood their eggs in their mouths. As do sea catfish. Giant water bug dads carry their brood on their backs because the females giant water bug has glued them there. Male seahorses actually give birth.
The father I want to talk about is this guy I saw on Falls Road a few days ago. Traffic was backed up. It was hot; a weak stream came from my Elantra’s AC, I was late from something (probably a towel sale) and it was humid. The mood was tantrum-ish, people were trying to get somewhere by leaning on their horns. There was something in the road. But when I got to it, blue with road rage… the anger just melted.
I smiled. I waved.
In the hot sun in the middle of the road was a guy directing traffic around a fawn. A fawn that would, if it grew up, become a deer that would eat all his landscaping, and leave hoofmarks everywhere and piles of pebble-poo. My father would say, “Sounds familiar.” But there he was was, protecting it, this tiny fawn, with its spots still on its back, its legs thin and bendy as fly-fishing poles. People were slowing to oggle at the dear little deer and the guy who was being so kind.
For once, sweetness and humanity was causing traffic.
So Happy Father’s Day to you the sea catfish and the sea horse, and to all dads who are like my dad, Knights and Gentlemen, forces for the good. I raise my goblet of rock.
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