Friday, April 23, 2010

For the Birds

In my last post, I talked about jerks. Those were human jerks. I’m not sure birds can be jerks. They’re just being birds. But I’ve had a couple of memorable encounters with them.

Everybody knows about mockingbirds. They’re territorial, and they’re fearless. Just ask my cats. Or, for that matter, just ask me.

One afternoon in Brownwood, I was jogging down the street, such as it was, that passed bedside the junior high building when I was dive-bombed by a mockingbird. I don’t remember the time of year, but it must have been nesting season. Fool that I was, I’d intruded on the mother mocker’s territory, and she didn’t like it one bit.

I wouldn’t have minded if she’d given up after the first swipe at my head, but she didn’t. She chased me all the way down the street, shrilling and flapping. It was embarrassing.

Even worse, she did it again the next day.

I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking I should have run a different route, but I’m as stubborn as any bird, by golly. The next day I went back, and, sure enough, the bird attacked. This time I was ready for her. I had a long piece of red cellophane ribbon that I waved in the air. The bird was so startled that she flew away and left me alone. After that, I tied the cellophane to my headband. The bird would swoop down, see the cellophane fluttering behind me, and fly back to wherever it was that she came from.

So the ribbon did the trick. Either that, or the bird thought I was crazy and didn’t want to have anything to do with me.

Mockingbirds might be territorial, but they aren’t dangerous. Hawks are another story.

Sometimes I’d run down Indian Creek Road. I ‘d run exactly 2-1/2 miles, ending at the top of a very steep hill, turn around, and run home. One day on the home leg of the run, a screaming came across the sky. I had no idea what it was. It sounded like a jet plane. The scary part was that it was headed right for me.

I looked up over my shoulder and saw a huge bird (okay, maybe not so huge, but it looked huge to me) falling like a rock, and it had taken dead aim on my head.

As you might recall, I teleported once when a rattlesnake surprised me. I didn’t do that this time, but I discovered that I could run about ten times as fast as mortal man is supposed to run. You know those legendary 9.0 hundred-yard dashes you’ve read about? If only someone had been timing me that day! I’m pretty sure I broke the nine-second barrier.

Even at that I almost didn’t elude that hawk. I felt the jet stream as it whooshed by me.

To this day I don’t why the hawk was after me. I hadn’t done anything. There was no nest around. There wasn’t much of anything around. Maybe the hawk was soaring so high above me that I looked like a bunny to him. Or a fieldmouse.

You remember the Peanuts cartoon in which Snoopy says, “Birds find me fascinating” (or something like that)? They don’t find me fascinating. They do, however, seem to find me.

Sunday, April 11, 2010


Not you, or course, but there are a lot of them out there. Runners seem to attract them, for some reason.

The other day I was jogging sedately down Lee Street when I heard the sound of a motorbike and a lot of yelling. I looked to the right and saw the bike speeding down Herring Drive. There were two riders, a boy and a girl. The boy was steering. The girl was hanging on tightly.

They flew past the stop sign at the end of Herring as if it hadn't been there, zipped across Lee right in front of me, and sped onto the gravel road that wends its way through a small trailer park. I could hear the yells as they hit the dips and bumps.

I kept on going, and not long after I was past the trailer park, the bike came roaring out. I'm not a mind reader, but I knew exactly what was going to happen. I've been running for years, and things like it have happened before.

I always run on the left side of the street, and I moved over as far as I could, running along the edge of the lawns. It wouldn't have mattered if I'd been ten feet farther off the street, however.

The motorbike zinged past me at about 50 mph, so close that if I'd stuck out my elbow, I could have cracked someone's skull. It must have seemed hilarious to them if their laughter's anything to judge by. I'm always glad to brighten someone's morning. The riders swerved back into the proper lane and turned left at the next corner. They'd stopped laughing by then, but I knew the memory of brushing past the geezer would warm their hearts for days to come.

Neither rider was wearing a helmet, but I have to admit that I was tempted to stick out that elbow. I didn't, though. After all, I wouldn't want to be a jerk.