I’d asked Mike to remove a low hanging branch from the oak tree at the bottom of the 84 steps.
“If you want that one off, you’ll have to move your bird.”
“The pheasant.. he’s under that bush.” Mike pointed to a clump of greenery at the base of the tree.
It seemed plausible. The scrubby area behind the dustbins had been requisitioned long ago by Pheasant Strategic Command. But peer as I might through the shrubbery I couldn’t see Ptolemy anywhere.
Mike started climbing the tree, chainsaw in hand. It wasn’t until he had begun to cut that I spotted the bird. Right at the very back of the bush and directly below the partially severed branch.
“Stop. STOP..!!” Much flailing of arms from below and grumbling from on high.
Well, I called and called. Pleaded and cajoled. I tried to imitate what I hoped might be alluring pheasanty clucks. The brown eyes stared back but Ptolemy remained unmoved. I went to the shed for bird seed and spread some out on the path. Still no response from the tangle of undergrowth beyond.
Mike was getting impatient. “He’ll just have to take his chances.”
“He will NOT! You’ll have to do it later.”
But, no, he had the perfect position in the tree, the branch was half cut through and so Mike wasn’t shifting either.
There was only one thing for it. I would have to place myself between the branch and the pheasant’s imminent demise. I thought I might be able to catch the bough as it fell, it was only a small one after all. The chainsaw roared back into life.
Branches can be heavier than they look. Especially those made of oak. The downward momentum carried it rather lower into the bush than would have been ideal. There was a sort of strangled squawk from somewhere down below. But I did at least manage to deflect it, enough to cast it aside on the path.
Mike climbed back down the tree.
I inspected a broken nail.
Ptolemy, rather too self-importantly I felt, marched out from under the bush and started pecking at his seed.