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Tony Grist

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Poor Thing [Nov. 30th, 2004|09:59 am]
Tony Grist
There's a frost on the ground. So the first thing I did this morning was renew the food in the bird feeders.

The north wind doth blow,
And we shall have snow,
And what will poor Robin do then?
Poor thing.
He'll sit in a barn,
And keep himself warm,
And hide his head under his wing,
Poor thing.

Which makes me think of Mary Poppins and how it's no longer permitted to feed the birds in Trafalgar Square.

Why, what harm did it really do? The birds messed up the monuments (so what?) but children loved being at the centre of a fury of wings, with birds perching on their shoulders, their heads....

Mayor Livingston is a good thing in some respects, but in this he's a kill-joy.
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[User Picture]From: jackiejj
2004-11-30 11:25 am (UTC)
We're expecting two to four inches of rain today and tonight.

Why, what harm did it really do? The birds messed up the monuments (so what?) but children loved being at the centre of a fury of wings, with birds perching on their shoulders, their heads....

Sounds a little unsettling! But I can imagine that it could also be thrilling.

Norris, where the children grew up, was such a small town that when there were winter snowstorms the kindly sheriff would close off the top of Pine Road with a barricade and allow children to use Pine and Crescent Roads as a sled hill.

It was wonderful! You could start at the top and go all the way down to Sawmill Road where it leveled off.

Sometimes the Bowmans, who lived at the top of the hill, would build fires and give the kids hot chocolate they made in a big old pot.

My son still remembers the ride he took at five on the back of Fred Lewis, a nice man from the church, who had a super fast sled.

The town decided someone might get killed or hurt or--worse--sue them, so the Pine Road sled run was stopped years ago.


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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2004-11-30 11:51 am (UTC)
There used to be licensed bird food sellers in Trafalgar Square- and photographers who would take your picture while you fed the birds. I suspect fifty per cent of my generation of English persons have a picture- somewhere- of themselves as a child feeding the birds in Trafalgar Square.

We're so hooked on safety and cleanliness these days. It takes the fun out of life.

London used to swarm with pigeons. There are fewer now. While we were sitting in the cafe inside Euston railway station a club-footed pigeon came hobbling about among the tables and I wanted to cheer.
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[User Picture]From: jackiejj
2004-11-30 12:26 pm (UTC)
...a club-footed pigeon came hobbling about among the tables and I wanted to cheer.

We took Isaac and Nathaniel to the aquarium near the mountains, and at lunch we were outside near a creek. The waiter routinely threw ice water at the pigeons, who were very bold and would even land on our table (much to the delight of the children).

Did you ever get surrounded by birds?

Oh!

I lived across the street from a naturalist, and she once invited me to join her at sunset near a bat cave--she said it was a thrill to stand in the entrance and have thousands of bats suddenly flap by--they never, she swore, would touch me, so keen were their bat sensors.

I still regret that I didn't take her up on her offer. Too eerie for me.


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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2004-11-30 01:00 pm (UTC)
I seem to remember being surrounded by birds in Trafalgar Square as a very small child- but I could be imagining it.

I don't really understand people being afraid of birds. Ingmar Bergman is afraid of them and there are scenes in his movies where there's lots of supposedly scary flutterment and I'm thinking, "so what?"

Bats I'm not sure about. I've not had enough to do with them.
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[User Picture]From: arielstarshadow
2004-11-30 03:37 pm (UTC)
I am not afraid of birds, per se (meaning I don't run shrieking from them), but neither do I want them flapping and fluttering all around me. I honestly cannot explain why. I have friend who take their birds out of their cages, and it makes me uncomfortable when suddenly the birds decide they want to fly about the room.

I think part of it is that I don't want them flying in my face, but I know how delicate they are and I am afraid that I will instinctively swat at them and end up hurting them.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2004-11-30 05:03 pm (UTC)
Birds do make a lot of noise and commotion in a confined space.

But the winged things that really spook me are moths...
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[User Picture]From: jackiejj
2004-11-30 06:55 pm (UTC)

But the winged things that really spook me are moths...


Not butterflies? Just moths?

Hmmm. Fascinating...

Is it because they flutter around at night? Because they're pale?

Hmmm.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2004-11-30 07:47 pm (UTC)
Moths have big plump bodies and powdery wings. Brrrr.

I'm talking large moths here. Little ones don't bother me.

Butterflies are fine. No problem at all with butterflies.
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[User Picture]From: jackiejj
2004-11-30 08:02 pm (UTC)
Moths have big plump bodies and powdery wings. Brrrr.

Yes, it's the big plump bodies! Yuck.

I once heard an entymologist on the radio. He said he wished sometimes he could BE an insect! Can you imagine?

For me, it's ants.

When I was eleven I had some ants living in a jar, poor things. I found their tunnels interesting.

Then one day I was watching them walking up and down in the jar hell that I had invented and felt suddenly repulsed by them.

This is my awful sin: I put them in the dark part of the garage, where I forgot them.

I still feel terrible when I think about their starving to death.

How I wish I could go back in time and free them all!

In my next life, I will probably come back as an ant and get squished right away.


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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2004-11-30 08:23 pm (UTC)
You won't come back as ant. You have repented.

But I think I see what the guy meant. Insect life is so different and yet- in its way- so intelligent. An anthill or a hive is like one mind divided up among thousands of different bodies. What would that feel like, I wonder?
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[User Picture]From: jackiejj
2004-11-30 08:33 pm (UTC)
An anthill or a hive is like one mind divided up among thousands of different bodies. What would that feel like, I wonder?

And yet there's the zeitgeist. What's that all about?









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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2004-11-30 08:44 pm (UTC)
I guess the zeitgeist could be our version of the hive-mind.

There's a story by E. Nesbit about a girl who dreams about living in a city where everybody is permanently angry and fixated on work and she wakes up and finds she's been sleeping next to an anthill...
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[User Picture]From: karenkay
2004-11-30 01:54 pm (UTC)
She's a liar. Austin is famous for its bats, and I've gone to watch them go out to feed. Hordes of bats fly furiously out from under the bridge straight into the woods--but every once in a while, one will fly straight into a tree.
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[User Picture]From: jackiejj
2004-11-30 02:24 pm (UTC)
I'm glad to know that some bats run into trees.

I'll never regret missing out on that particular surreal experience again!

Bats in my hair, squeaking!
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[User Picture]From: ibid
2004-11-30 11:44 am (UTC)
I loathed the darkenss in Finland but I loved the great white expanse of the white.
On a clear day when the sky was blue it was like walking on cloud.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2004-11-30 11:52 am (UTC)
Walking on cloud- that's a lovely image.
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[User Picture]From: four_thorns
2004-11-30 01:03 pm (UTC)
oh! is that what happened? i was wondering, because when i went to london as a kid, my dad took me there to feed the birds. i thought it was amazing! i was at the age where one finds pigeons to be strange and fascinating creatures. then when i was in london last january, i walked to trafalgar square with a friend and there were no pigeons to be found, and i wondered if maybe i had imagined the whole thing, or perhaps it was some other city in europe.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2004-11-30 01:48 pm (UTC)
No, your memory wasn't playing tricks. Ken Livingston, the Mayor of London, brought in legislation a few years back banning the selling of bird-seed etc in Trafalgar Square.

One good thing that has happened recently is that the north side of the Square has been pedestrianized- so it's no longer a traffic roundabout.
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[User Picture]From: arielstarshadow
2004-11-30 03:39 pm (UTC)

Lost Traditions

How sad that another tradition has been tossed aside - I remember that scene in the movie as one that always made me cry. Now, it's even sadder, knowing that the birds have all gone away, with no one there to feed them.

I wonder where it is they've all gone to? Where did they go?
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2004-11-30 05:01 pm (UTC)

Re: Lost Traditions

There are still pigeons in London- only just not so many- and they no longer congregate in Trafalgar Square.

I think it would be well nigh impossible to wipe them out entirely. They're like rats and mice; they've developed a symbiotic relationship with humankind.


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From: morrison_maiden
2004-11-30 06:26 pm (UTC)
Yeah, that sounds like a really stupid law. Feeding birds? Big deal. It's certainly a welcome change from abusing animals...
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2004-11-30 07:59 pm (UTC)
I don't really know why they passed it. Maybe somewhere down the line it'll be repealed.
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