“Isn’t nature wonderful, George? So clever and so… I don’t know… kind.”

“Kind? You haven’t read much Tennyson, have you?”

“What’s that got to do with anything?”

“Red in tooth and claw, Madge. Red in tooth and claw.”


“Tennyson. In Memoriam, canto 56 ‘Who trusted God was love indeed / And love Creation’s final law / Tho’ Nature, red in tooth and claw / With ravine, shriek’d against his creed’. That.”

“Don’t know what that means.”

“It means nature is the lion taking down a gazelle, ripping it to pieces and eating it. It means the sparrowhawk raiding our bird table and eating a finch or two. And it means the blackbird ripping an earthworm out of the soil and the ladybird devouring aphids. Nature is the food chain. Nature is… let me put it this way: however big a fish you are, there’s always a bigger fish somewhere out there looking to make a meal of you.”

“What’s that got to do with trees changing colour? Look at it. It’s beautiful. It’s stunning. And nature did that for our enjoyment. Ours. Don’t you get that? Doesn’t that make you humble?”

“I get that, in winter, there’s not enough warmth and sunlight for the leaves to photosynthesise the sugars that the tree needs to grow. I get that as an exercise in self-preservation, the tree closes off the supply of sap to the leaves, causing the leaves to dry, lose their greenness and reveal their underlying colour, wither, fall and die. I get that if the tree didn’t shut down and go into a form of hibernation, it could well die itself. In that regard I’d agree: nature is… no, not wonderful; more like resourceful, intelligent even. But I don’t think it happens for our benefit any more than a peacock displays its tail for our enjoyment.”

“Why else would he do it?”

“For the same reason you’d put on an alluring dress to go on an evening out, and I’d put on my smartest gear when we were younger.”

“And that was?”

“For sex, of course.”

“George Appleby. I have never dressed up hoping for sex. How dare you make such an insinuation? How very dare you?”

“Then why?”

“To look my best.”


“To maybe attract and meet a nice boy. Like I did you.”


“Because every girl; and every boy, I dare say; wants more than anything else to settle down in a stable, loving relationship and raise a family.”

“So the whole point of dressing up is, ultimately, to have kids?”

“If you put it that way…”

“And how do two human beings – in fact two of most types of animal – generally start the process of having kids?”

“But… but that’s not the real reason we dressed up.”

“Not explicitly, perhaps. You may not even have realised it, but subconsciously…”

“No. I can’t believe…”

“You’re sounding less convinced, my dear.”

“Well, you’re confusing me with all this talk about things eating things, things dying and things having… you-know.”

“I’m sorry. I was just playing with your head. You know I love you, don’t you? And, what you were saying – I don’t think it was done for our benefit as such, but it is nice, isn’t it?”

“It is. Even the sign at the side of the road says so.”

“And the sun doesn’t shine for our benefit, but we do benefit from it.”

“So I wasn’t completely wrong?”

“No, you weren’t. And you know what I said about having kids.”

“Oh, no. I don’t want any more kids. We’ve only just started to live for ourselves after devoting most of our lives to them.”

“I don’t either, Madge. But it can’t hurt to go through the motions, can it? A sort of tribute to nature?”

“I suppose not, George. I suppose not.”


This original fiction was written in response to Kreative Kue 384 published on this site earlier this week.


9 thoughts on “Appreciation

    1. I’ve seen worse, though I will accept that it could be more subtle. The worst I’ve heard was when I was working in East Africa. It involved a friend from Birmingham and a local woman, allegedly the wife of the local bank manager. Sadly, it’s not suitable for many audiences and I only heard it second-hand, so can’t swear to its veracity.

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