Violet Mackerel’s Natural Habitat
Violet Mackerel is a seven-year-old girl who is at the shopping center with her mama.
They have been there all afternoon, buying violin strings for Violet’s eleven-year-old brother, Dylan, and an Encyclopedia of Natural Science for her thirteen-year-old sister, Nicola, who is doing a special display for a school science fair. They have not been buying anything for Violet, unless you count gray school socks. Violet does not count gray school socks.
And now Mama has bumped into Mrs. Lin from across the road and they are having an extremely long cup of tea in the food court.
“With petrol prices as they are,” says Mama to Mrs. Lin, “it’s getting difficult to make ends meet.”
“I know,” says Mrs. Lin to Mama. “My bills are going through the roof.”
No one says anything to Violet, so she thinks about Mrs. Lin’s bills going through the roof. The roof of the food court is quite high up. Past
two whole floors of shops. And there is a small brown sparrow flying there.
Violet wonders if the sparrow has always lived in the shopping mall or if he flew in by mistake and can’t find his way out of the automatic sliding doors that creak open and shut as the people come and go. She wonders if indoor sparrows are jealous of outdoor sparrows, who have leafy trees to nest in, or if outdoor sparrows are jealous of indoor sparrows, who get doughnut crumbs and bits of hot dog to eat. It is difficult to know what small creatures think. But while Violet is wondering, the sparrow flies down onto the floor of the food court and hops and jumps just near where she is sitting.
Violet wishes she had some doughnut crumbs, but since she doesn’t, she tries to think of what else a sparrow might like. She suspects it is probably quite difficult for an indoor sparrow to find things to build a nest with, and that gives her an idea. The hem of her daisy skirt is coming unraveled, and she
pulls on a loose thread. It gets quite long before it breaks. Violet puts it down on the ground for the sparrow.
“You can weave this into your nest,” says Violet.
The sparrow hops over, picks it up in his beak, and flies back toward the roof of the shopping mall.
Violet smiles. A new thought is forming in her mind. It is called the Theory of Helping Small Things and it works like this: If you do something to help a small thing, that small thing might find a way of helping you.