Tag Archives: birds

April 1

Yesterday I had this conversation with a crow outside my window.

Me: Yeah I get you. It’s nesting season. That cat is down there. Your lady friend is trying to build a nest over in that tree. I see her. I think she might have some of my hair in her beak, from the dryer vent…
Crow: *fixes his eyes on me through the window*
Me: You know, the day we moved into this place, I was as mad and stressed out as you are right now.
Me: I’ll cut you off there. I know it’s worse to be a crow; after all, you’re a bird. Smart bird, but still a bird. Your choices for shelter are not as varied as mine. I went from an apartment to a townhouse; yes, it was stressful but not as stressful as building a nest out of threads in a tree —
Crow: CAW
Me: Right. But in HUMAN terms. In human terms, we’d just bought our first place. I was six months pregnant with our first child. We moved to a new city entirely. It would be like if you…moved to the middle of downtown Vancouver and tried to find a tree there–
Me: Exactly. You can’t even. I didn’t know how it was going to turn out. Everything was an omen. We bought the place on my birthday. That was good. Our movers were flakes and we had to fire them a week before the move. That was bad. When we arrived to move in, the previous occupant was still here…
Crow: CAW?
Me: Seriously.
Me: I know. That’s what I said, but, you know, in English. It didn’t look good for a few hours there. It looked very bad. I didn’t think this was the right place to make a nest at all.
Crow: CAW
Me: Well there was another tree outside our window at the time. There have always been trees…
Me: Anyway. It turned out OK. See? I’m here. The kids are at school. The sun is shining. That cat is too stupid to get you.
Crow: CAW
Me: I know, you have to crow anyway. But — it’s going to be okay.


Eight years ago today, we moved into the townhouse where we still live. The walls are no longer as white as they were. They are peeling in places and scribbled on in others. The floors are a perpetual swirl of tiny elastic bands, the heads of LEGO minifigures, hair, toast crumbs, and good old human dust. Our little porch is a nice place to sit and drink coffee on a chilly spring morning. We know our neighbours and our neighbour’s pets, and the birds we see on the walk to school.

I mentioned the anniversary to the children as we walked from school to trampoline class at the nearby park/arena and Eli said, “Wow! Let’s celebrate with cake!”

(I might need to start a cake company so that can be the slogan.)

I do so love our nest. Caw.

Ninety-Eight — Free Association

Let’s do this, post number ninety-eight!

If I was ninety-eight years old right now, it would be the year 2072 and exactly three months until my ninety-ninth birthday! I might have grandchildren, or great grandchildren.

A girl I used to be friends with in grade two started having her children while she was just out of high school and is now going to be a grandmother. She is forty-one. I’m not sure if this makes me feel old or young. Mostly just grateful to be me.

There is a woman in our neighbourhood — she is somewhere between forty-one and one hundred years old — who stands at the pedestrian-controlled crossing by the Safeway, pressing the button. She sometimes crosses when the light changes, but then she stands on the other side and presses the button to change the light again. She also chats with people while they wait for the light to change. I’ve never seen her anywhere but standing next to the pole with the button, anxiously watching traffic. She’s really concerned about traffic.

In the past few months the cycle on the lights has grown longer. It used to be one of those corners where as soon as you pressed the button, the light would change, but now it can take five minutes. If you’re driving, sometimes longer. You have to back up and go forward, trying to trigger the sensor that changes the light. Or maybe there’s no sensor and it’s just the entertainment for the people who live in the new apartment building across the street.

The new apartment building promised us street-level shops but so far all I see is a paper sign declaring DENTAL OFFICE OPENING SOON and a People’s Drug Mart. The Drug Mart used to be in the location where the apartments now are (it used to be a strip mall) and when the apartments were being built, the Drug Mart moved a couple of blocks away, to a terrible location on the other side of a very busy road. Now they are moving back. The last iteration of the Drug Mart didn’t have much except drugs. I am hoping the new iteration will have something good like lip gloss.

For the other street-level shops I am hoping for a coffee shop that is not Starbucks (there are already two of those just a block away) and a book store. If you’re going to hope, hope; that’s what I say.

There should be more book stores open near drug stores. After all, where are you going to go while you wait for your prescription to be filled? What else would be nice? A taco place. A tattoo parlour. A consignment clothing store that has the perfect jacket.

I may, this Fall/Winter, cave and buy a puffy down jacket with a fur collar. Why fight against the current?

Yesterday we drove very far to Harrison Mills, or near it, to see spawning salmon and feasting eagles. We saw a lot of both. There is an annual Eagle Festival based around the time when all the salmon come to spawn and die and the eagles arrive to eat their faces off. The festival is next week but we’re busy next week and this past weekend was a long weekend because of Remembrance Day. We were all in various stages of various sicknesses, it being mid-November, so a long car ride to a giant outdoor observatory with very few other people was exactly what the doctor ordered.

I’m not sure what the kids thought of the concept of swimming for miles and miles and miles and miles to lay your eggs and then die and then be eaten by eagles. Arlo did say, “It’s too bad they have to die,” and I said, “well, if they didn’t, the eagles wouldn’t have as much to eat,” and then we sang the circle of life together and drove home.

Actually if the salmon never showed up, the eagles would still have plenty to eat in the way of little dogs that live in the fancy gated housing development that’s built right on the river front / observatory. Why you would spend a bunch of money to build your dream country-woods house and then have a purse dog / eagle bait that you have to walk every day is way beyond me but maybe it will make sense when I’m retired.

I hope not.

In terms of my own life cycle, I am glad that after spawning I have a few years to carry on living before I am consumed by death. Hooray for being human, not fish. It’s the way to go.

Ninety-Three — Grateful

Yesterday I took the boys to a Rock And Gem Show in nearby Port Moody. They went bananas for all the pretty rocks and gems. Eli scored a teeeny tiny emerald and Arlo convinced me to lend him enough money to buy a very hardcore necklace with a sword and skull pendant.

“What kind of gem is this?” he asked the woman whose booth it was.
“Oh that’s just glass, honey,” she said, “but the sword is real pewter.”

We came home with cloth “grab bags” full of polished and unpolished stones for two dollars each and the joy of the grab bag came back to me with a whoomp, like a strong gust of wind. I used to buy grab bags for two dollars at Shopper’s Drug Mart when I was a kid. They were paper bags with random cosmetics in them and it was so exciting to pull the staples out of the top of the bag, unfold it, and see the surprise.

This morning, Arlo informed me he wanted to go to the beach with a hammer and safety glasses so he could look for gold. What could I say — the sun was shining and it was a warm day. We grabbed our hammer and an old pair of sunglasses of mine and drove across the bridge to the beach at Port Royal in Queensborough. I had never been there but had heard it was a Best Kept Secret of the City so a quick google found me all the information I needed.

The kids smashed rocks and splashed around in the Fraser River. A big dog — husky, malamute? — came down to the beach and dug himself a hole almost his own size. He smelled something good down there. Every time his minder tried to fill in the hole with sand, he gave her a dirty look and recommenced digging. His fat, white paws were a flurry.

He never did find what he was looking for. #sadbono

Clusters of ducks swam by, using the river current to their advantage, looking like they were swimming on fast forward.

A flock of geese flew overhead. It was blindingly sunny and warm. My sinuses felt clear. I felt rested, finally, after days of feeling tired.

Today I’m grateful for space and time. Time to make space: ridding our house of bags of old clothes, overdue library books, overflowing compost. Time to make food that is delicious and time to wash up after myself so there is more space on the kitchen counter and I don’t feel like I’m drowning in pots and pans. Time to make space on my bookshelf for five new library books, to dig out all the many blue spiral bound notebooks I’ve been collecting and take them upstairs so that when I look at the shelf, I only see the story revisions I’m working on right now. Space to find time to work. Time to stretch and put the spaces back between my vertebrae so I feel long and loose, not hunched and achy.

Time and space, sunshine and clear sinuses. I don’t ask for much.

Twenty-Two — Squeaky Bird Two

Squeaky bird went away for a day or so and then, today, came back. I went over to the window with the camera to try to get a picture but then s/he moved to the next tree over. That’s when I realized there are two squeaky birds, talking to each other, constantly, about bird stuff. Did you see that bug? That was a good bug. Remember that worm yesterday? Yes it was amazing. Hey do you have any lip balm? What? Do you have any lip balm? Dude, I’m a bird. Oh yeah, you’re a bird. You’re a bird too. Oh yeah. My beak is dry though. Beak balm. Ha ha ha. Do you think there’s such a thing as beak balm? I don’t know. Hey a crow. Watch out watch out watch out watch ou–

Two things. One: I saw the birds and they are sparrows; brown and boring looking but with a black and white stripey head. Like Bowie in a brown suit.

Two: The two birds remind me of my children, when my children are trying to get my attention.

OK, three things. Three: I figured it out (bear with me, I am at heart a speculative sort, so this is probably not true but WHAT IF IT IS and whoops now I’ve convinced myself it is so don’t give me science or whatever to try to convince me differently) — the birds lost their MOOOOOMMMMM. The birds are sitting in the tree where they last saw her and she’s been, like, eaten by an eagle or something, and they’re waiting for her to come back with their lunch and OMG Stanley where’s mom. I don’t know. I don’t know. I don’t know. Mom. Mom. Mom. Mom.

This would be why I am simultaneously in love with and completely irritated by the birds outside my window.

Why, when the window went silent this evening during dinner, instead of feeling relief because the noise had stopped, I felt heartbroken because obviously THE BABIES had given up HOPE.

Now I’m sitting outside, half-listening for them. When I hear a bird chirp, my head swivels the way it does when I hear a baby cry at Costco even though I don’t have a baby a) at all or b) with me. I am not the birds’ mother! I am not a bird, for one thing!

Damn, I could have written this post about Taylor Swift’s song “Twenty-two” but now it’s about birds and dead mothers. There’s always tomorrow.

Eighteen — Squeaky Bird

There is a small bird sitting in a tree outside my living room window. It is bigger than a chickadee and smaller than a robin, the two kinds of birds I see most often outside my window. It sounds like a squeaky toy being repeatedly bitten by a small, tenacious dog. Cheep. Cheep. Cheep. Cheep.




I love birds. I have developed a big love of birds in the past couple of years, whether because I have turned a corner into that age where people start caring about birds, or because I just started noticing them last summer when we were in Ontario and there were so many different songs and calls and cries every morning and evening. Perhaps a combination of the two. I have turned into that person who says to the children, “look, an eagle!” or “hey, is that a heron?” while they politely look at the sky and ignore me. Birds are fantastic; old, prehistoric, flying beasts with delightful wee beaks and scrabbly feet.

But not this bird. This bird, I want to hunt down and wreck. Last night I kept hearing it while I was inside and then I went out and walked up and down the path looking for it, muttering, “Shut it. Shut it.”


I did not even see it, just the flutter of leaves as it hopped from tree to tree, cheeping. Incessant cheeping! Cheep!

What does it want? Why does it cheep so? I must know. If I know, I won’t try to hit it with a pellet gun. Motivation is important. Tomorrow, squeaky bird, I will find you.