I was speaking with The Mom this weekend and the majority of my stories involved Birds that I Had Recently Seen: two blue tits, a pair of English robins sitting side by side on a brick wall (I squeed to myself out loud when I saw them they were so adorable), a variety of wood pigeons, magpies, and an English goldfinch. Which was a particularly good find. I spent several minutes describing it to The Mom as she listened, rapt with attention. My other stories – involving my new flat, move, and week and work full of numerous existential crises – were not as interesting and did not get anything like that level of attention.
I mean, when I lived in Toronto she’d come into town, but was always keen on visiting the best pet shop ever and its many resident parrots, cockatoos and lorikeets.
Recently, thanks to the wonder that is Facebook, and the joy of owl videos (more on that in a sec) I reconnected with some old childhood friends. They were particularly interesting friends because their parents kept an aviary full of parrots. To have happened upon such a thing as a young child was mind blowing. All these parrots and overlooking a backyard pool – I was ready to move in at a moment’s notice.
One afternoon, we were all playing, and we’d got one of the parrots out to come join us. This one parrot loathed every other human he ever met, but for reasons that are unclear, took quite a shine to me. I spoke parrot at him – self taught, mind – and he seemed to like whatever it was I was garbling. As this parrot was so fond of me it seemed a natural extension for us to be married that very afternoon. I believe our parents may have all been drinking poolside whilst I married a bird who could’ve – had he decided that’s what he fancied doing – bitten off all our little fingers. Instead, he tolerated the dress up and then the betrothal. So, yes, The Mom did miss my wedding.
I got in touch with these friends – and was reminded of the wedding – because of an owl video that was making the rounds that day. It’s a lovely owl and they put a hat on her. It’s yellow, with a nice flower. I watch that video upwards of ten times in a week. Sometimes more.
I had an away day at work recently and people were asking me pleasant questions and I replied as I’m want to do with far too much detail about absurd things, such as my late parakeet who was crippled by chipmunks and then later, as his feet didn’t work, he enjoyed a long soak in the bathtub, perched on my chest, eyes closed, doing pretty much the same thing I was. It’s important to have a good soak now and again. Especially in winter. I mean, he was a tropical bird, imagine what winter must’ve been like for him?
And the bird thing, well that goes back to the beginning. I remember being a kid, and The Mom bringing us a picnic lunch to school so we could run around outside and look at the birds. Every walk we ever took (and we walked A LOT) someone was having a bird pointed out to them. In fact, on top of the stack of plates in the kitchen is a bird guide, just in case someone fancy pops by. An entire dinner party will be brought to a halt if there’s a sighting.
And I do admit, when I was moving out of London to Bristol and was wracking my brains about how to make new friends, I did look up the local ornithologist group. A fair few twitchers out here in the west country. Though I do miss London, there is something divine about being woken up by the dawn chorus instead of car alarms. I keep telling The Mom to come over – but it hadn’t occurred to me until now that I could do it using birds as bait!