On Wednesday I woke up and looked out our front door to find snow, ice, and swarms of birds (and I mean hundreds, not just a tweeting few) raucously flip-flapping as if they were reenacting a scene from Alfred Hitchcock’s horror film The Birds. I saw the movie when I was a teenager, and it took me years to trust flocks of birds flying in my general direction.
From my view via the front door, the bird hubbub was focused on our beautiful foster holly trees. Black-colored birds were on the ground, in the trees, fighting with each other over access to the trees, and making noise as if they had just hit the bird lottery if they could only kill one another and get there first.
I assumed they were hungry and were trying to feast on the foster holly’s red berries, but it wasn’t really clear what they were up to since the berries were encased in ice. Perhaps the birds were going for the water frozen around the berries. I hadn’t a clue, but being the tree-loving and capable woman I am (yes, I said tree-lover, I admit it freely with great abandon) I felt I had to do something to save my trees because they looked as if they were in danger.
When I noisily opened the garage door, I hoped they would be frightened and fly away, but the avian invasion were not the least bit affected by the racket. I looked down and saw the typical outcome of a huge congregation of birds: bird poop freshly deposited on the driveway, the sidewalk, and seemingly everywhere under the trees.
Birds and their leavings carry disease I’m told, so I tried to figure out how to get them to move on down the road and find another place to run amok.
Despite the temperatures in the 20’s, the icy road, and the blowing snow, our newspaper person had braved the elements and left our papers in plastic bags at the end of the driveway.
I moved toward the papers, then looked back toward the frenzied birds trying to think what I should do. In the next moment I was on my back, heard my head hit the concrete with a resounding thunk, and I was looking at sky. My first thought was that the neighbors would rush to my assistance and find me there sprawled very ungracefully in the snow, but after about 10 seconds on the icy ground with no neighbors intervening, I gingerly got up with nothing apparently broken.
Quite addled I picked up the newspapers, felt helpless to solve my bird problem, and went back in the house via the yard instead of the driveway. After throwing a rock at the birds in frustration from the safety of the front porch, I decided to read the papers and eat breakfast.
As it happened, the book review of Wednesday’s New York Times explained that my fall occurred because I am passionate about what I do and am very good at it. Thank you, New York Times!
In his Books of the Times column, Dwight Garner critiques the new book H is for Hawk, a memoir by British author Helen Macdonald. Garner says she invites us into her world as an experienced falconer who chooses to train a goshawk, one of the most mercurial and fractious birds to tame and calls her Mabel. Describing Macdonald’s occasional lapse into self-drama, the reviewer paraphrased a quote from dance genius George Ballanchine:
These pratfalls are rare. Yet you may actually begin, as I did, to savor them, for the same reason the choreographer George Ballanchine was said to appreciate it when, once in a while, a good dancer took a spill during a performance.
It’s a sign of intensity. It’s a sign, Ballanchine said, that someone is really going for it.
I don’t think what Mr. Ballanchine had in mind was someone going to fetch the papers and suddenly considering the sky, but I admit freely that I was indeed really going for it. Or them, in this situation. But giving Balanchine his due, I have always been a person who forged a path with arms swinging quickly at my sides.
Despite the morning’s capricious fall and weird gathering of birds, I decided to spend the late afternoon at the theater watching the short live-action films vying for an Academy Award on Sunday night. All the films were transportive to other cultures by way of Switzerland, Israel, England, China, and Northern Ireland. These films are now playing together as a group at art house theaters around the country, such as Knoxville’s Downtown West, as well on the Web via Vimeo and Amazon.
Check out the trailer for the adorable movie Boogaloo and Graham from Northern Ireland that was my third seque into birdland on Wednesday. This film tells the story of two precocious Irish boys and their pet chickens (they named Boogaloo and Graham), and it will surely win best live action short film at the Oscars Sunday night.
After my well-intentioned but highly disappointing first marriage was over, I had recurring dreams where I flew bird-like above the ground and landed in trees. When I was chased by a dark something-or-other, I simply flew away which is certainly the ultimate freedom and power: to fly above all fear and calamity.
In that vein, I can safely report that after being reminded that my Wednesday morning fall was an example of my passionately going for it (thank you, Mr. Ballanchine), then spending time with two blissfully adorable Irish boys and their chickens, I came home from the theater and all the pesky birds menacing my trees had flown away. Of course, they proudly left their birdy calling cards behind them for me to remember them by. Ahh, the memories.
Who said ice, sleet, and snow (and attacking birds) can’t have a happy ending?!
//Anna ~ 2/20/2015