Wednesday, 6 April 2016
That's what my sister called me the other day when I sent her the link to "All robins answer to Tippy" (the post before this one). I'm pretty sure she meant it fondly ..
Paul thought it an accurate description of my character. I know for the most part he likes me this way (a little eye-rolling at some of my antics aside) and I probably couldn't not be this brand of nuts if I tried, it's built-in. Mostly a feature rather than a bug.
But it can make for some awkward moments.
For example - I walked to the store yesterday by way of the bike trail. Raven, of course, kind of tagged along above. Maybe watching me try to navigate the glacier that covers the path - it was that or mud on either side of it - amused him, I don't know, Ravens have their own reasons for everything they do. Our habit, if you will, is for him to zig-zag above me, periodically landing in a tree ahead, cawing at me; I answer in that sing-song voice he likes. But what the bird does not yet understand is that once I have reached the town proper, I am not going to talk to him.
So he lands on a lamp-post and caws to his friends who are hanging out on and around the Catholic church steeple and they swoop in to join him. Now I have several ravens, landed or swooping over me, talking to me as I do my best to ignore them, to just walk down the street like any normal middle-aged housewife doing her day's shopping and taking some air. Problem being, I forget myself and look up and laugh at them which nets me a scowl from a woman sweeping her front step.
If it was just cute little sparrows, folks would find it charming but no, it's great big black birds with bad reputations. I'm just glad it's not my vulture friends ..
It's no wonder I don't walk downtown often, isn't it? Me and my entourage, sheesh.
My sister has no idea just how splendidly nuts I am. We're friendly enough, but not close. Just for fun, in answer to her ribbing email, I told her a couple more bird stories. Specifically, I told her about the one vulture who took to coming around to the yard last summer, every day at around the same time, it would circle and swoop low over my head. It was a game the bird, a female I think, really seemed to enjoy (so did I!). One day when I wasn't outside to meet her, she swooped back and forth a couple of times right close to the window, seemingly trying to look in. It was impressive, believe me, even I seem to forget how big those birds are til I see one that close. My sister's response to this story? Silence. Crickets. No acknowledgement whatsoever. See? For most people, a little of this "bird thing" goes a long way. They don't know what to say, so they say nothing.
My offspring get it though, bless their hearts. They grew up with it after all, so when they come to visit they know to look up and say hello when one or two or several large birds circle low over the yard.
Others get it too.
One day last summer we were visiting a friend of a friend, a man who had quite recently made the escape, as some of us call it, from the city. As we stood in his yard I heard a call and looked up; it was a hawk, circling and calling hello. So of course I returned its greeting, gave the salute of "arms outstretched as though wings", the bird circled down lower and then hovered, wings flapping to keep itself stationary they way they do when they're hunting; we had a rather nice moment together. I asked our new friend "does this bird come around often?" His look was long, his eyes searching mine carefully before he answered "I don't know .. I've never noticed .." The tone of his voice was that of a man not quite sure, but not dismissing, this new thing and then he gave a slight nod. He accepted it. We have become good friends since that day.
Of course I wish everyone would look up. Once someone discovers that the birds are looking down at us it sort of changes their perspective, opens up their understanding of the world. But to become aware that the birds are aware of us - and interested in us - is seemingly nuts. Most people don't want to be nuts.
Yet don't most people want something more than a flat existence?
Everyone looks down these days. Down at their screens, down at their plates, down on their neighbours ..
This isn't even an experience that the atheists or the Darwinist types should reject. It's not woo in the least, it's just birds being curious and friendly.
My challenge, for lack of a better word, is to choose, when I am out in the world, between being open about my nutter status and risk making people uncomfortable by acknowledging the call of the nearest bird or ignore the birds, offending them, so as not to embarrass the humans.
To me, this is a matter of 'loving thy neighbour'. These birds are my neighbours. In many cases more so than the people around me; there is genuine caring between us. My neighbours tolerate me, the birds actually seem to like me. If I could only get my neighbours to understand that the birds would like them too, I would see that as an act of love on my part, a gift I have to offer that grumpy man next door or that harassed mother across the street. After all, there is truly nothing like a quick exchange of hello's with a robin to brighten one's mood.
Addendum: There is a companion piece to this over at one of my other blogs here, if you're interested