bird brain

All monkey minded during yoga in this morning’s mugginess.

Cardinal sings at the very top of a skinny birch; it’s hard to focus on my Om so I focus on his.

But my mind is slippery today and the moment it wanders, the bird is gone.

things i saw

A tiny elderly woman in a bulky red parka and too-short trousers the colour of recycling boxes, black boots, the kind you might imagine Winnie the Pooh wearing; in fact her whole look had a sort of Pooh-ish vibe about it. Grey hair fresh out of curlers. She waited in line at the Bulk Barn looking cranky as she held a ridiculously small bag of chocolates and nothing else. I wanted to say: get more you’re only going to eat these in five minutes and then be cranky again. But then I thought, a) I don’t want to scare her and, b) maybe the whole point is running out… so she has reason to come back the next day.

Another elderly woman. Also in a checkout line. This one at the grocery store. Behind her is a young lad, tall and dark-haired, maybe fifteen. He’s buying a piece of chicken and a case of spring water. The woman ahead of him is taking forever finding precisely the right change to pay; her knobbly fingers look stiff as she fumbles with pennies and nickles. The young lad watches, laughs to himself, and I want to reach up and tap his shoulder, tell him not to be such an ass. Does he not have a grandmother? Does he not think he’ll have stiff old fingers himself one day… if he’s lucky. The cashier, a young girl, not much older than him, is patient and gracious to the woman who finally snaps shut her change purse and toddles off. The still-smirking lad is up next and when he hands the cashier his credit card, she apologizes, says they don’t take credit cards. He stammers, fumbles around in all his pockets before scraping together the cash. The smirk has faded. The cashier, bless her, is still gracious.

Another young lad. Also about fifteen. And a girl, the same age. He in baggy jeans and a long jacket; she in skin-tight leggings and a very short one. They race across a parking lot to the library. She, although much smaller, easily takes the lead as he hangs back and admires the view.

Feathers. In the backyard this morning. Always makes me sad. Dove. I’m not sure if it was neighbourhood stray or hawk; there was a hawk hanging around in the trees the other day. Do they eat doves? I wonder if it was a descendent of Orville and Wilbur, the two that were born in our wisteria who took their first wonky, tentative, zig-zaggy flight across our garden as we sat on the patio and watched. They lived among the spruce here for years. It’s always a mistake to name them.

nice old ladies don’t chew

“Excerpts from a list of bird mnemonics, one of the many means employed by birdwatchers to distinguish one species’ call from another. The full list [of 94] can be seen here.”

Bittern, American                      bloonk-doonk

Blackbird, Red-winged             konklaree

Blackbird, Yellow-headed      don’t you dare

Bunting, Indigo                           fire, fire, where, where, here, here

Chickadee, Black-capped        chickadee-dee-dee and cheeseburger

Dove, Mourning                          hoo-la-hoop, hoop, hoop

Flycatcher, Olive-sided           quick, three beers!

Nuthatch, Red-breasted          ink, ink, ink

Owl, Barred                                    who cooks for you, who cooks for you all?

Rail,Virginia                                  gidick, gidick, gididick

Sandpiper, Semipalmated        tweedle dee dee

Sparrow, White-throated         poor Sam Peabody

Thrasher, Brown                          drop it, drop it, pick it up, pick it up

Warbler,Connecticut                 whip it, whip it up, whip it good

Waterthrush, Northern             nice old ladies don’t chew

~From GEIST 80, Spring 2011