When I looked through the blinds into the garden this afternoon, there they were. The whole Quail Family was pecking its way through the weeds and grasses that grow haphazardly there. These weeds are greener than the ones in the big brown back yard, because here in the garden is where I water.
I watched them for a while, but they weren't doing anything interesting. I'd been planning to open the front door to let some air flow through, but I kept it shut so I wouldn't disturb them. I didn't expect that they'd be out there for long anyway.
The next time I checked on them, half an hour or so later, all I could see was Papa Quail, standing on the low bench. I knew he wouldn't have stayed behind and let the rest of the family wander off, so I thought they might be hidden in the bush behind him.
Then I noticed some movement in the grass, and it was as if an out-of-focus picture had suddenly become clear. I could now see that the young quail were clumped together, resting in a close circle on the ground behind Papa's bench. They were half in and half out of the sun, but I suspect they'd started their nap in the shade.
As the sunlight crept over them, they began to stir. Soon one of them hopped up on the bench and deliberately bumped up against Papa. I know how these family dynamics work; that's why I'm sure it was intentional. The little guy was trying to tell the old man that he was there, awake, and ready for some action. Enough of this sleeping in the middle of the day. Let's party.
Papa Quail, by the way, is a beautiful bird with bold markings and a black hood. He would look majestic and regal and borderline imperious, standing there on the bench keeping watch over his family, if not for one thing. That topknot just doesn't go with the rest of the outfit. It's what makes him a quail, but it also makes him look a little less like a king and a little more like a court jester.