There is still a chill in the morning air when I call Liam to the car. It is his birthday, and I am taking him to buy him a bird.
“Dad, where are we going?”
He already knows where we are going, he just wants to hear it again. I have already forgotten the name. “Duchattinier,” I manage to read before Liam tears the note from my hand. Since he started learning to read no text is safe from him.
“Doo-chat-i-neer, birds and bird sup-plies.” It is somewhere just off the highway.
A dry cough from behind the hedge. Liam sometimes calls the neighbour Mr. Sour Face though never to his actual face. “Elflord, mister Elflord,” I correct him silently. I almost said it out loud.
“That dude bird dude,” the neighbour says, his bald head suddenly peeking over the hedge. Duchattinier is known for being the only man in the country to sell dude birds.
I utter a short apology, and quickly manoeuvre Liam and myself into the car.
While we are driving Liam asks about the name of every bird he sees. Sparrows, jackdaws, and magpies I can tell apart but which is a blackbird and which a starling? I point to a bright yellow sticker on the inside of a window and say, look, a window swallow. A lame joke, but Liam thinks it is hilarious. From then on he keeps seeing window swallows everywhere.
A heavy chain with a lock is attached to the gate, as is a sign that I cannot read from the car. “Go and look what it says there,” I tell Liam. He clambers out, and walks to the gate.
“If you can read this you are staming too close!”
“Standing,” I correct him.
He shakes his head furiously as he climbs back in.