The Garden Chronicles – June 15, 2012

Bad Bird Day

OK, my heart’s actually thumping a bit. It’s a beautiful sunny day in June so why am I inside typing instead of fertilizing my annuals? BAD BIRD DAY! This morning I had an experience so frightening, I almost peed my pants. Sorry to be so graphic – no other way to convey the depth of my terror. I’m going along, tenderly watering my begonias with Miracle Gro, sweet-talking them, admiring their strong growth and cheering them on. OK, I wasn’t actually speaking aloud to them. Maybe if I had, I wouldn’t have startled the baby mourning dove camouflaged in the dirt. It’s fairly dense with foliage in that part of the garden – there’s a luxuriant purple heuchera nestled beside some nicely-blooming Stella d’Oro lilies. More cover is provided by a maturing clump of false sunflowers. The canopy of my prized redbud keeps the soil shaded and cool.

I must have gotten too close for comfort.  With a massive crash and bash, and a whoop, whoop, whoop, whoop, whoop that sounds like the Three Stooges guy with the bowl cut, the youngster tries to fly up out of the flowers away from me. Somehow, in its spastic fright, it couldn’t quite take wing, so it shuddered, gibbered and whirligigged like a spinning top and then nose-dived into my weigelas a few feet away. I’m gibbering like an idiot over in my corner, too, my hair standing on end like that other bozo of the Three Stooges, but try not to linger on that picture. 🙂

Now it’s afternoon and I’m ready to tackle the other side of the garden. But I have to go back to the day before yesterday for a moment. Step into my time machine (you can do that in comedy). I’m watering my garden with the long hose that has a neat new gun nozzle with all kinds of settings. It was on centre spray, a steady forceful stream of water. It’s early evening, the breeze is soft on my face, the sun’s slanting rays painting long leafy shadows on the lawn. I’m thinking spiritual thoughts, writing a blog post in my head (I do this for fun and because my brain won’t turn off even on demand). A sudden whir of wings directly overhead, so close that I duck and swing my hose wildly to defend myself, a new method of baptism called “sprinkled from north, south, east and west.” I didn’t even see what kind of bird it was! I was seriously unnerved! Still, I didn’t assume it was a personal attack. Birds fly from my neighbour’s garage roof to our roof all the time to get a drink from the eavestroughs. It’s a regular flight path of grackles, doves, robins… you name it. Nothing further untoward happened. I put it out of my mind, attributing my over-reaction to another of those phobic brain twitches I can’t control.

Back to today. I’m watering, but a persistently squawky grackle is right above my head in the maple tree. It’s loud and obnoxious and doesn’t shut up for a minute. At first I pay it no mind. Then I hear a few timid squawks from just over the hedge in the empty lot next door. Now I’m sure – that momma grackle is directing her annoyance at me! This is probably the very same stealth attacker from the other day!

Now I’m tensing up, realizing that I’m a tad vulnerable when I bend over my annuals with the watering can.  (Also, I’m presenting an expanding target every time I bend over, too, but don’t linger on that image). Anxious and, well, cowardly, I decide to “have a coffee,” a well-known euphemism for “retreat.”

In a little while I’ll go outside again and see if the coast is clear. I have to cut the grass. I think swinging the lawnmower at a dive-bombing grackle is pretty much an impossible feat, even for me, but I’ll definitely be mowing the lawn with my head on automatic 360 degree swivel (you can do that in horror films), checking the atmosphere for “incoming.” Wish me luck.