The Billionaire's WifeBy: Holly Rayner
We took a walk through the lush tropical gardens where we saw a Caribbean flamingo. There was a sign that said it was the National Bird of the Bahamas. Mark wanted to know then if we had a national bird.
“We do,” I told him. “It’s the bald eagle.”
“Why is he bald?” he asked.
Trying not to laugh I said, “He’s really not, they just call him that.”
“Because he has a white head that contrasts with the rest of his body so it makes him look bald.”
He nodded, for now, he was satisfied. We went in further and ran across an African Gray bird. Mark seemed to be relieved that he was gray since a lot of the animals names didn’t seem to go along with their general descriptions. He was a lot like me in that sense, biology or not. He liked things to add up.
“What’s that one?”
“It’s a cockatoo,” I told him.
“Cool name,” he said. We heard an announcement then that they were beginning their bird feeding session. “Can we watch them eat?” he asked.
“Of course,” I told him. “This is your day; you get to do what you want.”
We went over to the seating area with Cecile still following along. She tried to sit next to me and I picked Mark up and plopped him down in between us. Over his head, she looked at me and mouthed, “I don’t bite.”
“That’s a matter of opinion,” I said. She smiled, tightly.
The bird keepers passed out small pieces of apples to volunteers in the audience. Mark’s hand was one of the first up when they asked who would like to feed them. While the birds landed on the hands of the children and they fed them the apples, the bird keeper told them about parrots and where they were from. They said that these particular parrots were from Eastern Australia and Tasmania. They said that they were different from most parents in that they required pollen, nectar and fruits to survive. Mark was fascinated and I loved watching his face as he learned.
“What’s that one?” Mark asked me when we were back on the trail.
“Can you read the sign?” I asked him.
Mark looked at it and scrunched up his face. “No, it says something weird.”
I laughed and told him the bird was called a, “Swainson Rainbow Lory.”
“He’s so pretty,” Mark said. He was right; the bird was one of the most brightly colored ones I had ever seen. “I want a parrot,” he said. It wasn’t like he was asking for one, he was only making a statement, but my wheels began to turn at once. When we started walking again and Mark stopped once more to look at the flamingos, Cecile stepped up to me.
“Don’t think about it,” she said with a smile.
“I’m thinking about it,” I told her. “What do you have against birds?”
“They’re noisy and messy, for starters. He won’t take care of it, which will end up being my job,” she said.
“You’re the mom, that’s your job,” I told her, only half-kidding. She shoved me in the arm and before I realized what I was doing, I shoved her back. It was a small gesture, but as soon as I did it I realized how flirty it seemed and I reminded myself that she quite possibly had ulterior motives here.
Mark found the Capuchin monkey next and then an Australian Black Swan and then a ring-tailed lemur. Suddenly, he had gone from wanting a parrot, to a monkey.
“See, he’s already replaced the parrot,” Cecile said with a smile. I had to admit, she was right. I didn’t know much about seven year old boys except what I could remember from my own childhood. As we wondered along, Mark realized we were being followed by a peacock. He was strutting along behind us and when Mark got close to him, he fanned his beautiful tail. He giggled and chased it until the next thing caught his attention.
“Is that a dog?” he said, looking at the funny animal.
“The sign says it’s called a Caotis. They’re from the Netherlands.” Mark was right, their heads did look like dogs except that they had long, pointy noses.
“Ooh! It’s a giant rat!” he said. Cecile made a face.
“That is what it looks like.”
“What does the sign say it is, Mark?” I asked him.
“A Cap-e-burra,” Mark said.
“Wow, good job! Very close,” I told him. “It’s a Capybara. It says that he’s the largest rodent in the world, so you’re right, he is a giant rat.”