Happy Valley- a poet walks among you! She walks down the middle of your streets in search of a coffee house that opens at 7—preferably one that has blueberry scones…
Last few weeks my inner dialogue seems to have a Wheeling Virginian cigar hanging out the corner of its mouth, almost as if I am internalizing a Clint Eastwood character from a 1960’s spaghetti western. This dialogue surfaces as a distaste for sidewalks apparently.
My urban bird watching continues to provide rewards. This morning I took a right on 17th and saw a collection of Steller’s Jays sitting on the corner of a low rooftop chatting away. It was about 6:45 in the morning and I imagined they were having a bird meeting about bugs, feeders and crows. Two of the birds looked smaller than the other three. Are they young-lings getting trained? What surprised me the most about this conversation was the low volume. Steller’s are known for their loud “SQUAWK!” The kind of squawk that can wake you out of a nap, bring your shoulders up in a cringe, and your finger to involuntarily enter your ear in an attempt to protect the lobe. It’s an annoying sound. The bird’s feather mohawk fits the personality perfectly. They thrash about the stage of any backyard bird feeder violently tossing seeds all over and chasing the other birds away—a real punk of the bird community. Yet here they are, five of them, quietly chatting away making little gargle sounds and tapping their beaks together in salutations.
Around the corner three crows sit on a wire quietly eavesdropping. Bird espionage.
Later today I am attending my cousin’s funeral. Family on my dad’s side is flying in. There is an old joke about us Irish-types: we suffer from Irish Alzheimer’s, we only remember the grudges.
This morning after four days of anxiety, I’m different, peaceful, after my walk. In the past I felt like a boxer getting into the ring prior to a family get-together …not today. My mind makes a connection between these birds and the family. The childhood stereotypes of each family member squawks at me. However childhood memories are distorted by time. Even our mind’s eye remembers event at the low angel of a 12 year old. Adults are bigger than life! Old memories, we all have of some variety, knit themselves deep into our hearts. Every so once-in-a-while a box of yarn, cut up, knotted up and tangled, is dropped off at our doorstep demanding to be segregated and deciphered. Who did what to who, and who’s to blame?
Fuck that. Don’t take the bait.
Today as I travel into Anacortes with my brother, in our funeral attire, I leave my tangled box of yarn at the door. I will approach my family, especially the ones I haven’t seen in decades, with fresh eyes and “quiet” conversation. We have all changed in one degree or another. The fabric of our hearts are knitted by natures stitch. The natural bond of family is greater than the artificial polyester strings of misunderstandings and hate.
I love my family.
Squawks and all.