Tag Archives: Birds

Hey birds, come feast on this block of food


So far the birds in the backyard have not started flocking to the block of food I provided for them. I don’t know what their problem is. I happen to love blocks of food, especially in wintertime. This bird meal cost me $7, and it’s basically a family-style lasagna. If any birds are reading my blog, I urge them to give this food a chance.

Heartwarming story about bird shit

Birds have shit on me exactly three times since my dad died: once in my hair when I was on my way to bereavement therapy, once on my suitcase when I was traveling between New York and Virginia, and once simultaneously on me and my poet friend, who lost his father two weeks ago. Yesterday we were sitting together in the sunshine outside Dodge Hall, the building where we take all our classes. I showed my friend a photocopy of the turtle/frog/spider picture, because I’d just been staring into the creases in my dad’s hand, examining the pool water dripping from his skin, realizing that I’d always looked at the three animals instead of the disembodied hand that held them aloft. My friend showed me a photo of his family which he keeps in his wallet. In this way we were introduced to each others’ dads. Then I heard a sound like my friend had been hit by a falling acorn. His shoulder had been massively bird-bombed. While I tried to clean the poop off his red shirt, I realized that some of it had splattered onto my photocopy.

This led to a discussion about the cosmic meaning of rogue bird shit. Some people say it’s good luck, which it’s obviously not, because you have just been shat upon. But one thing bird poop makes you do is stop what you’re doing and look up for a second. So my friend and I, we both stopped being tearful and we looked up at the clear blue sky and we laughed to think that birds’ bowels might have a direct line to heaven. Maybe our dads wanted to send us a more palatable sign that all is well in the afterlife, but the only material that can navigate between Earth and the spiritual realm is bird shit. Maybe our dead loved ones have to debate every day whether they’re going to remain invisible or shower us in crap.

These are all Big Maybes. But you can’t deny that bird shit creates a moment. And our lives are made up of moments. And there’s a lot of shit in our lives, not all of it dive-bombing us, thank god, but omnipresent nonetheless.

My husband thinks it’s weird that my therapist was the one who first suggested to me that bird poop might carry a message. I was complaining to her about the slimy shit in my hair, and she said, “Didn’t your dad love birds?” Yes he did, and so do I.

Alaska travelogue. Don’t read if you don’t like travelogues. I just have to get these feelings out.

It occurs to me that my last post was sort of doom and gloom and that you may be wondering if I made it to Alaska and back. I did! Thanks a lot for asking. I also fell in love with the place, much like my taxi driver to the Juneau “International” Airport (they have service to Canada) who cashed in the return portion of a round trip ticket 25 years ago and never looked back. It must have been June when he did it, because the Alaskan summer has both snow-covered vistas and 80-degree days. You’re hiking up a mountain in a t-shirt while a glacier holds firm in the rocks below you, thinking “My armpit alone could melt down that glacier.” It’s actually really weird. I can’t explain it in terms of weather, temperature, global warming, chemistry, pop culture, anything. Maybe the ice is so full of bald eagle shit that it’s preserved year-round.

And I can speak about bald eagle shit from experience now. I feel like a true American. I took my cousin’s two young kids on a tram to the top of a mountain overlooking Juneau (these awesome kids were my free ticket to Alaska, god bless them) where we stomped around in the snow and then visited one of the state’s majestic bald eagles where it lived in a cage the size of a utility closet. The keeper said the bird was captive because she had been shot blind years ago, which I think is what the keeper says to tourists to make them feel better about seeing an animal suffer in captivity. But as I watched the creature and the kids gripped my arm (bald eagles are actually really big – and also intimidating when they rip into frozen salmon – and also scary when the babysitter is saying stuff like “Look out! The bird is going to eat you!”), the thing turned around, hiked its butt in the air, and tried to squirt me with white hot poop. Which of course made me cackle, but only because the bird missed. I’m pretty sure its brain is smaller than mine.

Other animals we saw included humpback whales (wedding whale sighting booze cruise!), sea lions (the one bloated male keeps a rookerie of 50 females at the ready in case he wants to play Bingo), ravens (they’re everywhere. Locals have to retrieve their mail as soon as it’s delivered, otherwise the ravens will open their mailboxes and cash their checks. They’re that smart. My cousin’s husband also pointed out that you shouldn’t look up when you walk through downtown Juneau because if you do you’ll see a dozen ravens staring at you and get freaked out), deer, squirrels, and dogs. I just remembered a joke my grandfather told during this Alaska wedding weekend: “Someone should make a toupee for bald eagles.” He has better delivery than I do. He has some comedic competition in Alaska though. A Juneau playhouse was putting on a show called “Salmon Chanted Evening.”

I don’t know if all Alaskan coastal towns are like this, but every day in the summer about five 3,000-person capacity, 10-story cruise ships dock in the Juneau harbor so their occupants can roam around buying gold nuggets and fur bikinis. There are more people in one of these cruise ships than in all of Alaska (I’m making up demographics, but this one sounds accurate). So each summer the town caters to these tourists by transforming itself into a quaint outdoor shopping mall where one can buy Eskimo-themed knickknacks and temporary orca tattoos. Meanwhile you get the feeling that in the winter it’s every man for himself and people walk around with either shotguns or fly fishing rods, out for blood.  And this is why I was baffled that Alaska is home to Sarah Palin. Everything I’ve ever seen of that woman on TV suggests that she’s not fit for the Alaskan wilderness. Pantsuits? Blow-outs? Come on. The state is as laid-back as it gets. I wore long johns under my dress to the wedding and I still felt like royalty.

One fabulous thing about Alaska is its daylight hours. It seems like an excellent place for an alcoholic to pay taxes (oh wait – we pay taxes to Alaskans) because it’s sunny until like 10pm and you not only get a second wind but a third and a fourth when you’re drinking. Is it time to stop? Slow down? No, the sun is shining. There’s a reason the bride and groom both did ice luge vodka shots at the wedding: The climate builds liver stamina.

Was the plane ride awful? Yes, but I had modern medication on my side. I feel sorry for the people of the 17th century who had to fly in commuter jets without these helpful chemicals. Their helicopter pilots must have been nervous enough to wet their pantaloons.

Oh shit, Jeopardy’s on.