Fish Eat Fish

March 29, 2007|Posted in: Uncategorized

…and dog eat dog…today I was standing on the playground at Paden School, a local elementary school that has to be the best-sited school in America. Except maybe if it was in Hawaii or something. The playground backs up right onto the San Francisco Bay, and all around are
sailboats, walking trails, and waterfowl — geese, herons, gulls, ducks, egrets, and more. The water is still as glass in the mornings,no waves, just a mirrored surface reflecting back the white boats, their white masts, riggings, details as perfect as a photograph, so vivid. Up in the very blue sky there passed an airplane, red, rocketing away from Oakland’s Airport. Underneath it, lower in altitude, a smaller passenger plane came shooting along. And below, still lower to the ground, a seagull flew, all three in the same direction, and all three smaller than they really are. And yet the bird seemed to be chasing the small plane which seemed to be chasing the jet plane, in some strange mockery of the food chain. A sight to ponder on a clear blue morning.

Last night I was Cinderella, holding a finch on my finger. Perhaps I should have sung to it. We think it was being chased by a larger bird, because we saw a shadow of something larger zip by. Then there was a crash at the front door glass, and on the step there was a tiny finch — the same as I described a few weeks ago, the little tennis-ball finch (golf-ball sized, up close): yellow with black stripes on its head. It looked as if it were dying, just wobbling there, stunned, legs splayed, eyes blinking intermittently. I thought it might die. Eventually it pulled its legs under itself. We stayed by the window to watch out for cats. A while later it shook itself and tucked its head under its wing — which is a misrepresentation, actually. It kept its wings folded flat, but ruffed up its shoulder feathers and cocked its head sharply to the side to nestle into them. We think it was male, from the coloring — wouldn’t females be plain, dun-colored? This one was not bright yellow, but also that dirt-dun color, but every feather was also iridescent yellow, and when it spread its wings, there was yellow, and the yellow splash on its head — must have been the gloriously plumed male. The sky was getting darker outside, and we thought someone might step on him when Patrick came home or one of the girls. Perhaps a cat…so I put on my garden gloves and went out to scoop him up and set him under a bush, somewhere for him to recover a bit more before flying away. But the thing wouldn’t get off my glove. If I tipped my hand down toward the planter box, he ran up my glove, I turned my hand and he went the other way. He was light as nothing, barely any weight at all, and when I went to brush him gently off my glove, that’s when he spread his wings and flew into the little tree near the porch. He sat in a branch over my head and looked at me. I couldn’t believe he could fly. But he was up in a tree, where I think is best for birds. And that’s the last we saw of him –we went in and I made dinner, and later checked. He was gone.

So now we want a bird in our house.

Luckily, last night I was able to score free birdseed off Freecycle. Super-Score!

Must go to work. Just wanted to remember the bird. No ID on his breed yet. He’s awfully cute, though.

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Julia Park Tracey is an award-winning journalist, author, and blogger. She is the author of "Veronika Layne Gets the Scoop" and "Veronika Layne Has a Nose for News" (rep'd by Booktrope). She is the Poet Laureate of Alameda, California. She's also the conservatrix of The Doris Diaries, the diaries of her great-aunt Doris Bailey Murphy. Her articles have appeared in Thrillist, Quill, Paste, San Francisco Chronicle, and in many magazines; her latest poetry appears in The East Bay Literary review.

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