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Enough time has passed for me to look dispassionately at the date, December 23rd—the day I found myself in the office of my family doctor—a life changing day.
To back-up a bit, he’s a man I’d had a pleasant professional relationship with for years. Even so, I didn’t think he’d be calling me in the wish me the compliments of the season. I’d had a blood test days before. I’d been purposefully called—no ‘if your passing just drop in.’ And let’s be realistic, no busy doctor calls you in two days before Christmas to chat casually about the excellent state of your health. Some sword belonging to Damocles hovered.
Who knows, maybe it was test-result nerves that made me greet the doctor with a mini-book report. The bestseller I’d been reading as he came into the room, had among other things, debunked the myth Jesus was born in the town of Bethlehem. Instead, the author argued, the main event took place in Nazareth. Hence the title, ‘Jesus of Nazareth,’ I yammered before he got properly seated.
He nodded. “So, no stable. No star. No, ‘no room at the inn’? No little drummer boy?”
I didn’t notice the enthusiasm-dip in his voice, another side effect of the nerves I suspect. I prattled on. “Nope,’”I said. And with no hint of seasonal diplomacy, I gave him the title of the book so he could put it on his Christmas wish list.
The moment arrived, further evasion became futile. We were after all working on his dime. He looked solemnly at the computer screen and moved onto the test results. In a word, my glucose management was ‘crapola’—not his word. This came as tragic news, since I had, freshly baked at home, enough mince pies to send an entire city block into a coma. I could almost taste the deliciousness. I felt a sharp pain cross my forehead as their sugary promise faded.
Then there was the prescription, and the referral to diabetic school. At the door, we looked at each other, knowing life had for ever changed.
“Sorry about the mince pies,” he said.
“That’s okay. Sorry about Bethlehem.”
We managed a laugh but only just. We had entered his tiny consulting room, neither of us suspecting Christmas would be forever altered.
The Ecuadorian Squirrel Hawk
During the evolution of the hawk species, one particular branch, the males of the Ecuadorian Squirrel Hawk, started attacking animals purely to satisfy their own vanity.
The male Ecuadorian Squirrel Hawk would build a nest in the traditional manner. Then It would try to attract a mate. The unusual method of attraction used by this bird was not a display of hunting prowess or an elaborate dance. The male hawk would clinically remove the tail from any mammal it could find and then hang these tails from the nest to try and attract a female hawk. Over the years, the squirrel hawk must have deduced that squirrel tails worked the best and so decided it could hunt rats, mice, and other rodents for food, but squirrels should be left alone as their tails were more important than their meat for the preservation of this hawk species.
The male hawk would place the squirrel tails in fetching arrangements designed to impress the female hawk. Some hawks would drape the tails over the sticks in the nest to make the nest more comfortable for their potential partners. Other hawks would hang the tails from the nest, where they would sway in the wind and catch the eye of any passing females.
The unusual behaviour of these birds has also led to a change in the appearance of Ecuadorian squirrels, whose tails are, on average, 65% shorter than in other squirrel species. These squirrels also sit on their tails when at rest unlike other squirrels whose tails stick out behind them when they are sitting still eating a nut. It’s also believed the Ecuadorian Ground Squirrel may have evolved from particular families of Ecuadorian Squirrels who lived close to hawk’s nests and who were attacked more than other squirrels.
These squirrels confused early explorers who would see a squirrel that had been attacked by an Ecuadorian Squirrel Hawk and conclude they had found the squirrel equivalent of the Manx Cat. Once the explanation was discovered, some Victorian explorers even began to explore the Isle of Man, looking for a Manx Cat Hawk, a potential distant relation of the Ecuadorian Squirrel Hawk, but no evidence of this bird was ever found.
Welcome to the September 1st, 2015 edition of the NWW Photo Prompt!
The New West Writers Photo Prompt is a twice-monthly challenge for writers of all genres. It’s easy to participate — and we encourage everyone to do so. Just spend a moment with the image below and write whatever comes to mind. A couple of lines, or a couple thousand words. Prose, non-fiction, poetry, even a six word story, if you like.
There are no winners (we’re all writers sharing our words) and no rules. Well, one — be respectful with your words.
You can announce your post with a link in a comment below, or if you link to this page from your post, we’ll publish the trackback link in the comment section of this page. Add an “nww photo prompt” tag to your post and we’ll also provide a link to your response in the next challenge. This post outlines these few simple steps.
To get you going, one of our writing group’s members will have the first go at the prompt. Base your post on theirs or go a completely different way.
Here are the posts written in response to the August 15th NWW Photo Prompt: