My young twins have so far certainly picked up my interest in the natural world. They love pouring over photos of flora and fauna, picking out detail, asking questions. So when I recently happened upon some stunning wildlife photos from Israel's Parks and Nature Authority I showed them to the twins, a series on scavengers attracted by a carcass, portraits of birds and mammals.
Twin B's eyes flashed with excitement "It's a hyena!"
Me: But how do you know it's a hyena?
Twin B: Because it is bothering the bird.
Me: Why do you think it's bothering the bird?
Twin B: Because it doesn't like sharing food with the birds.
Me: What kind of food does it like?
Twin B: Meat. Like me. I like to eat chickens. I would share my chicken with a hyena.
Of course we actually live in a town where hyena sightings have increased dramatically in recent years, a function both of the growth of the native hyena population and the growth of the town with its tantalising rubbish and road kill. That said, the twins have never met a real life hyena. I hadn't realised they would recognise one.
I guess I shouldn't have been surprised though. We went for a flower hunting walk to a nearby nature area not long after some rainy days. It was muddy and the boys were all excited to see lots of clear paw prints in the mud. Discussion ensued as to whom the paw prints might belong to, cats, dogs, foxes.
Twin A piped up "Ani yodea! Zeh tahn!" (I know! A jackal!) and he proceeded to do a very convincing impression of the jackal howls we heard a few weeks back on a walk in the woods.
Then the big boys, who'd run ahead, noticed some nice patches of autumn crocuses right on the footpath. My middle son almost trod on them in his excitement but my oldest called out "Sitvaniot!" (autumn crocus) and that stopped him in his tracks.
The twins dashed over all bright eyed, enthusiastic but also somewhat confused. "Sufganiyot? (Hannukah doughnuts) Eifo sufganiyot? Sufganiyot zeh Hannukah!" And they launched in to a Hannukah song medley before remembering about the hoped for jelly doughnuts.
Fortunately upon realising that we had found sitvaniot flowers and not sufganiyot doughnuts they were still bright eyed and enthusiastic, crouching down to carefully examine the find before running off to look for more.