Wednesday, October 22, 2008

For the Birds

I woke this morning with a head devoid of thoughts for The Buddha Diaries. I have been so much engaged in politics of late, and have found myself so much on the negative side of things that the Buddhist part of my brain has simply grown weary of the topic, I think, and went on strike. I can't guarantee that I won't be back at it tomorrow, but for today, well... it's for the birds.

On our morning walk around the hill today, Ellie spotted a little blue budgerigar (like these ones) on the dirt strip at the side of the road. Realizing that it had to be a domestic bird that had somehow escaped from its home, we reached out to tempt it to hop onto a hand, but the little creature was too shy, too scared, to accept the help. It flitted about from dirt to twig and back again. Thinking that it might be (rightly!) scared by the sight of George the dog, I led him up out of sight--but still no good. I guess its chances for survival are pretty slim, out here in the mean world, but we left hoping that its human friend might somehow manage to find it.

A little further down the hill, we heard the squawking chatter of dozens of birds from high in a magnolia tree, and spotted a flock of them squabbling in the highest branches, their green plumage and oval shape hard to distinguish from the green pods hanging amongst the foliage. We have lived on this hill for close to forty years, and are used to seeing the flock in this particular location. When we lived on this same street, not far from where we live now, our neighbor had a gorgeous coral tree which proved a special attraction for the parrots at this time of year, and their flashes of green provided a wonderful contrast with the scarlet blossoms. Always a joy to see them, despite their incessant, noisy chatter.

This morning, returning from our walk, I checked online and found a website devoted to these brilliant creatures. And I recalled seeing a truly wonderful film, The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill, about a similar flock in San Francisco and their extraordinary role in the rehabilitation of a homeless man. If you missed this wonderful experience, now is the time to go straight to Netflix. If you need a vacation from the nightmare world of politics, this trip into the best of human nature will provide the needed respite.

As we walked on down the hill, the parrots took off from their perched and offered us the gift of their spectacular flight. (I stole this picture from a site online; in Los Angeles, of course, this morning, the sky would have been clear blue! But as usual, we had left the camera at home. And besides, I doubt that I would have been quick enough to catch the picture with this elegance. I wish I had the patience, the skill, not to mention the observational powers of The Dharma Bums, whose pictures never fail to reinspire my love of the natural world!)

(By the way, not to forget politics entirely, our friend and correspondent Cardozo sends this link to a site for Obama posters. Check it out.)


robin andrea said...

I love that you are seeing parrots there. After watching the Wild Parrots video, I often wished we could see such brilliant plumage among the leaves.

We are paying attention to politics, just not writing about it. In fact, I feel like I'm holding my breath until Nov. 4th, and waiting to exhale only when Obama has been elected.

Thanks for the kind words, Peter.

carly said...

P: We have a beautiful huge tree out back which attracts a group of about thirty of the wild parrot/parakeets, whichever they are (the small, mostly green ones) each year. They come when the large fruit is ripe. They chatter and sqwuak and are a lively picture of nature.

Back, as a boy, I had a playful, smart parakeet. It loved a small bell. If I held the bell up it would put its beak into the bell shape and whistle and talk wildly, and it't eyes would dilalate in and out.
Twice in her life, "Princess" escaped the house. Both times, a small bell saved her life. I ran about the neighborhood ringing a small bell, bigger than her little one, and in each case she appeared and came down to the bell.
We were all sad the day Princess died at a ripe old age. She's still a terrific (boyhood pal) memory.

TaraDharma said...

I've seen the movie a couple of times - it is a stand alone remarkable portrait of these birds and the human spirit. Brilliant!

Love the Obama posters -- I printed out the "Thinker." Right on. Thanks, Peter.

PeterAtLarge said...

I'm with you, Robin, holding my breath. Or trying not to.

Carly, I'm happy to have ignited some good old memories with my parrot piece. I suspect your gang is likely the same as ours--it's not far, as the parrot flies...

Tara, glad you liked the posters!

James said...

Nice work, Peter. Here in London, just tuned into your blog and found to my amazement that you are into birds. So am I. Not sure why. My new paintings are called "Flock of Birds" and can be found on my website: Check out the birds. I am sure you will love them. And say Hi to Ellie.