In my father’s house there is a room at the bottom of the stairs that has always been called the hall. If you were looking you could find there the telephone, the piano, and my father’s second diorama that displayed smaller migratory birds. The piano and a telephone are still there, but the second diorama and the birds are gone.
In the late 80s a man who worked for the Department of Natural Resources, a provincial government institution, saw the display while on a walk with his daughter, a Girl Guide who was attending a camp or some other event on our property. He was delighted, but was concerned that my father should have permits for the birds, and so informed the general bureaucracy to expedite this process.
This led to a visit from a man from the Federal Environment Ministry who made a pronouncement that the songbirds and ducks and geese that died out of hunting season (he could, he claimed, tell by their pin-feathers when they had died) were being illegally held in our house, as they were also dual citizens of the USA, where they migrated in winter. He threatened that my father would be prosecuted for holding them. My father complied with his threats by donating them to the Natural History Museum in Regina. They were boxed and, to my knowledge, have never been seen since.
My father never stuffed another bird. To fill this place in his soul he took up the restoration of gramophones.
I’m unsure of the moral of this tale: his gramophones are as beautiful as his birds.