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Glimpses of Inspiration

North Lake Tahoe

 "Beware the Jabberwock, my son! The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!"      Lewis Carroll


"Let your fiction grow out of the land beneath your feet."   Eudora Welty

Published

"Chicken In Turkey"

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"Tiny Tattoos"

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"Haunted By Glue Guns"

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"Smokey in the boys' room"

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(contributor, page 27)"I Salute You, Mother"

As published in the North Lake Tahoe Bonanza 9/28/07 

 

That Nagging Feeling

Incessant squawking pierced the grease-laden air in the kitchen. I could feel its insistence, like those red exclamation points announcing urgent emails. I left the stove and peered out the window.

What wasn’t surprising was to see two Steller’s Jays. This was Tahoe, after all. What was unexpected, however, was that the commotion turned out to be a scene all too familiar to me. A teen-looking Jay, almost the size of the adult but less stable and with all the helpless, nagging characteristics of a full-blooded American kid, was on the ground next to Mom.

“Squawk!” it said, wings fluttering, mouth cavernous. It was a move I’d seen from baby chicks still in the nest. This fluffy ball was a big kid, though, and he wasn’t in the nest. Mom pecked at the ground—take a hint, Junior.

Junior pecked the ground. “Squawk!” Flutter, flutter. Poor desperate me! Feed me, feed me!

Mrs. Jay poked at the ground and then jammed her beak down Junior’s mouth. Two seconds later, Junior screeched. More, Mom! Need more, not enough, can’t do it myself! “Squawk!”

Mom hopped onto a decomposing log. Junior, stumbling a little, followed. See, Junior. Log. This is a log. You peck like

“Squawk!” Feed me, Mom! I don’t want a lesson! I want food!

Mom picked up a speck on the ground and thrust it down his throat. His wings paused mid flutter. He ejected it. This, I determined, was Mom’s put-a-sock-in-it maneuver. I wondered how she handled time outs. Imagine that with winged children.

I was struck by the universality of nagging. That young birds were objecting to work they were perfectly capable of doing made me wonder about other behaviors we think are unique to humans. How humbling this was.

Then I saw something that made my heart go out to Mrs. Jay even more. Another chick. Junior II hopped over and joined Junior I in his fluttering fuss. Poor mother. Wait a minute—I could help her! I ran to the garage, grabbed a bag of birdseed and rushed to the back yard. My swift arrival scared away the birds, but I knew they’d be back. I scattered a generous handful of empathy. Mrs. Jay would not slave over this meal. I dug my hand into the bag and reloaded for another toss when I noticed the birdseed had a strange odor, kind of smoky. Did they have to flavor everything? As I brought a handful of seed up to my nose, I saw smoke billowing out of the kitchen window.

I managed to prevent a fire but our dinner was ruined. Getting Mrs. Jay’s dinner had cost us ours. No problem. I had my own bag of birdseed, the Hacienda de la Sierra Restaurant. But my little chicks beware. Watching Mrs. Jay had given me a new perspective: no more nagging me. Squawking’s for the birds.