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A friend recently complained that her grandchild was a picky eater. “Oh? “I asked, figuring I’m the world’s expert on picky eaters. “As in she doesn’t eat much or she doesn’t like different foods and won’t eat them?”

“Both,”  she answered.

“I know what that’s like,” I sympathized.”I was like that as a kid and all three of my kids  didn’t eat much since they had allergies and real, ‘normal’ food was not part of their lives.”

And Gill, with her Crohn’s is still, by necessity, a picky eater. But that’s fine with me. She knows what her body can tolerate and it’s different things on different days. I sometimes suspect the full moon has a lot to do with her diet, but that’s okay. Anything to spare her spending entire mornings in the bathroom. It’s fine by me if she consults a medium, a yogi, a card reader or anything else other-worldly as long as she eats to keep her body working…sort of.

It occurred to me, while thinking about food and diets, that my life revolves, to a great extent, around food. It’s not what I eat as much as what those around me consume. For instance, I returned from the supermarket this morning with two more 40 pound bags of mixed wild bird seed. The outside birds (and the squirrels) eat me out of house and home. I am stocking up with an extra supply to be dished out when I’m away on my upcoming trip. My birds are a fickle lot and if they don’t find the usual seed in the feeders on a daily basis, they desert me. I hate coming home from a trip to no birdsong and no action in the trees. That said, the small birds are a picky, messy lot. They spill almost as much as they eat. And I have watched them pick through the various kinds of seed, flicking out of the feeder the kinds they don’t want. It’s like watching a toddler pick all the veggies out of the soup and refusing to eat them!

I mentioned the squirrels. For all the bad press they get (including from me), at least they eat like linebackers and don’t waste anything. I have four black squirrels, two brown ones with white tummies, and the odd small red squirrel. They are all, with this mild winter and early spring, obese, their tummy rolls so large they can barely put their paws together in front. I don’t begrudge one black squirrel, the one I have nicknamed Stumpy, since he has only a stump for a tail. I’m guessing run-in with a car or just very clumsy and accident-prone.

Then we have the backyard ducks. I used to feed over two dozen every day, for breakfast and dinner. When the budget for their food eclipsed my own food costs, I cut down. But several still show up. While they have an obvious preference for the cracked corn, they are more mindful than the small birds and eat pretty much everything.

My indoor pet birds have been watching the finches and sparrows outdoors and have picked up their sloppy habits. They spill (intentionally) more seed than they eat. The tiny black niger seeds seem to be the equivalent of caviar and they sift through everything to find those. Needless to say, the floor of their room is not tidy. I threaten that I’ll charge them for lack of upkeep, but really, it comes down to the fact that I’m too lazy to vacuum every day. Plus, Mrs. Beeton looks at the vacuum as an imminent threat to her well-being. She may know something.

The one member of our family who eats everything with relish and gusto is The Pig. She’s coming over for a short visit soon and her dish of homemade chicken soup lies on the kitchen floor, awaiting her arrival. At least she likes the food I serve!