Birds fascinate me.
Perhaps because as a kid, I would watch as they made their nests in the trees by my bedroom window. Or because they would amuse me in the mornings when they waged war on the chickens.
Now I see this one at least once a week outside my window.
When I was small and living in Africa, we had a few people living with us—most of them employed by my dad. Since my family is West African, and rice is the main staple in West Africa, breakfast consisted of rice most times. Before cooking the rice however, there was a process called “pick rice.” (This process was usually reserved for the kids but since we slept in on weekends, we avoided this job). The process included picking out and throwing away the dark grains in the rice. The end result was white, clear grains of rice that was placed in boiling water to accompany the stew of the morning.
When “picking rice” we would usually throw the dark grains to the floor. The chickens loved this because it ended up being a feast for them. Although it was clearly the chickens’ party, the birds didn’t want to miss the fun. I would watch as the birds came down quietly to steal the chickens’ feast. Then I would laugh hysterically as the chickens tried to chase the birds for a chicken beat down. What made it hysterical was that since chickens can’t fly, the birds always ended up escaping. Once they escaped, the chickens would go on a cussing spree. They would all walk around in circles making the loudest, fussiest noise I had ever heard. We would laugh and point at the rooster as he marched up and down, clearly disgusted at the show-offy birds.
I still watch birds—this time from a distance. I just like seeing them, gazing into their eyes from afar, being still so they feel comfortable with hanging out in my space.
I love the sounds they make (if you’re American you may call it singing, if you’re African you refer to it as crying). They’re a noisy bunch, with different sounds that emanate at different times: whether they’re making love or trying to, chasing food or each other, or just sitting and observing from a tree branch.
I remember when a guy in college (a senior I had a crush on when I was a freshman) brought a love bird to the dorms. He thought he was bringing home a piece of art, but I knew better. Love birds don’t shut up. They can’t help it; they’re always reciting love poems. And they’re pretty birds. I would use the bird as an excuse to visit his dorm room. But her loving presence on campus was short-lived because just like love, she just wouldn’t be quiet.
These mornings, when I look out my window, there’s usually a bird watching me. Sometimes I swear that I can see it mouth the words good morning.
Then I remember that I've just crawled out of bed, and I'm having my "wake-up" cup of tea.