Catch and Release

Jim lent up against the old wooden fence, it creaked as he adjusted his balance, but a reassuring creak, he thought – the creak of something that’s been around for decades and probably for decades longer.

He watched as the group of children gathered into a semi-circle, herded by the teacher and told to sit on the floor. Each child swooshed a net through the air, practicing for what came next.

‘Now children, can any of you remember the steps?’, the teacher asked. There was a soft babble of 30 small children replying, ‘that’s right, Catch, Burn, Tag, Release. Well done. Now remember not to tag until the burning has stopped, isn’t that right, Billy.’ The teacher looked over at a boy with a bandaged hand, who nodded his assent.

The teacher made all the children rise, then walk in single fire over to the gates to the reserve. ‘Are you ready, kids?’, Jim shouted. The babble got louder, ‘Then lets go hunting for phoenixes’ he yelled, throwing the gates wide open.

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