My streak of perfect health has come to an abrupt end with this nasty head-cold. I felt so terrible today that I stayed home - never even went down for the mail (and I love getting the mail). This morning, Flash brought my binoculars in from the hallway and asked to use them. He's three and a half now, so a few conflicting things ran through my head:
1. My precious binoculars - if anything happens I can't afford to replace them!
2. Well, we're in the house - what can really happen? If he wears the neck strap and I tell him not to touch the glass parts, maybe I can teach him how to use them for real and wangle myself a birding buddy.
So #2 won out, and we practiced finding something to look at, raising the bins, and then finding the item through the lenses. He was particularly interested in making things look far away by using the binoculars backwards. I adjusted the spacing for the smaller distance between his eyes, but I have no way of knowing how clear the image was for him. It was just ten minutes of our morning but it would prove useful later in the day.
This afternoon I stood at the counter, looking out the kitchen window as I waited for my toast. Our driveway has several tall trees about 15 feet from our third-floor windows, so I always look to see who's around. Today it was a male downy woodpecker, and Flash got really excited about seeing it. We peeked at the bird together, and then ran for the binoculars to follow up on this morning's impromptu lesson. We watched the bird for about eight minutes and chatted about what it was doing.
Me: What do you think he's doing?
Flash: Looking for acorns.
Me: Why does he want acorns?
Flash: To eat.
Me: I don't think that kind of bird eats acorns. You know why he's called a woodpecker?
Me: Because he pecks the wood with his beak to find bugs and scare them out.
Flash: So he can eat them?
Me: Yeah, with his quick little tongue.
And so on.
We also talked about the bird's markings, and the red patch that indicated that this one was a male. The best part, though, was that I could totally tell that he got to see the woodpecker through the binoculars. His face lit up as I imagine it all (how binoculars work, why people would ever look at birds) made sense to him in that instant. A happy first for both of us.