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As always, it's taken me a bit of a climb but I'm already up. My short legs and arms are not very useful to reach the farthest branches, but my light weight and the agility of my body are ideal to climb to the top of the chestnut. It is a strong tree near the house of the witch , high in the chestnut mountain.

Children should not approach the house of the witch, they remind us from time to time the elders. It's dangerous. A witch lived there and maybe she still does. Who knows what he could do to the children who cross the walls of his home. However, no one said anything about not climbing the nearby trees.

From there I see a familiar landscape: the forest ... my forest. My favorite trees. My friend the nature. That wonderful world that opens before me and that I must still discover almost completely. I am intrigued by the secrets of that place far from men. Silence envelops me. But it is not total, the breeze rocks the bright leaves and the laughing birds sing around.

I settle into the tree, dry and rough. The late summer sun warms my face. I'm OK. I always am when I wander only through the forest. I embrace the branch and contemplate the landscape ... out of the corner of my eye I perceive something. A little bird has perched close to me and looks at me. Or rather study me. I was fascinated. His chest is yellow and the feathers on his back are blue. A white face appears furrowed by what looks like a small black mask. What a nice color combination.

I, of course, do not know yet, but I just live a magical moment in my life that is going to stay in my mind forever. Surely the years have distorted somewhat the memory, but not enough.

- Common heather!

There it is. Looking at me again, now from the pages of a book. No doubt. That drawing was to honor the bird that was watching me from the twig of a chestnut tree. "What a great shoe there is sitting here" , he would think when he came upon me. The one I saw now in the pages of the book seemed to think the same thing. The distribution of colors was just that of the little pixie I saw in the forest, that rogue animal that looked at me with its glittering eyes, shiny as black pearls, and I had a revelation. A real revelation. It was possible to identify animals thanks to the books! To my total joy, someone had taken the trouble to study them and put them on their pages!

My life changed. Later I discovered that there were even more specialized books. And even some who recommended how to study animals in their environment: it seemed appropriate to take binoculars and take notes. It began to forge the field naturalist that maybe all the children carry inside.

Time passed and right there, in the mountains of the Serra del Corredor, a few kilometers from the village of Vallgorguina, I discovered the garrul jay, the scandalous pito real, the scary blackbird and many other more inhabitants of the forest.

We spent the weekends and the summer in a farmhouse located in the middle of the forest. At first it was Can Saleras, from my birth in 1972 until I was perhaps four or five years old. We did not have electric light (we used oil lamps and lanterns), or gas (it was cooked with firewood or butane bottles) or telephone. The water came directly from a nearby mine.

I discovered in that forest the difference between high and low sounds. One book said that the singing of the tawny was sharp, and I was going crazy to see owls of the type. He had often heard shrill shouts in trees, never identifying the emitter. The funny thing is that they always heard during the day. One afternoon I got serious. I walked as stealthily as possible to approach a bird insisting with its song on a nearby tree. I heard it almost in front of me. But as much as I looked, I saw nothing but a wood pigeon that took off. Perhaps frightened by me, perhaps frightened by the tawny, this animal that camouflages very well among the branches of the trees.

I waited in silence. The tawna sang a little farther. He had moved! I repeated the operation with all the patience a naturalist is capable of. The result was that I again frightened a wood pigeon. Something twisted in my brain. The scientific method did not leave many ropes untied. Apparently, what I took for a tawny was a wood pigeon. But my bird guide said that the wood had a low, sharp song. Was I, then, my belief in what was acute and serious, overturned? That was it. Thanks to some recordings that I acquired years later (the Walkbird, two cassette tapes with the songs of the birds of Europe) I corroborated what I already knew by then: the song of the wood pigeon is serious. / p>

How many naturalists and ornithologists do we share similar childhoods? I guess many.

- What was his name? asked my father. - Cipriano - said sometimes, - Mariano - I said, and my father always invariably answered in the affirmative.

Ah, yes, Mariano ...

Aggressive religious mantis, elusive grasshoppers, if a tiny catapult had used them as ammunition, beautiful red-blooded ladybugs dotted with black ink, snail patients, whose slowness prevented them from escaping from the gaze and harassment of an impertinent child ... that army of beings, all of them and many more became my confidants and my friends.

It all started thanks to him. My father loved the mountains. My father, who was as excited as a child when he breathed the fresh air of the mornings ... that collected wood, which boasted how good the toasts were made on the embers of the fire. I was going to look for logs to the woodshed to feed that same fire when it got dark and the darkness terrified me. That I scolded for reading with a little light until so late ... That he was scared and ran very, very much, when I told him that a child had fallen on the raft and could drown ... My father, who was human and did errors and successes. In the end it turned out he had as many fears as I did. And she was not immortal.

My mother, the animal lover did the rest. There are not enough words to describe either the wonderful influence they had on me or how grateful I am to both for the life they have given me.

Good man, you have gone after your wife. She left shortly before you and did not want to live without her.

Rest in peace, Papa, rest in peace, gentleman. Thank you for making me what I am. I am proud of you. I love you. I love you.

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