Janet's Jargon

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Sunday, February 25, 2007

It's so "tweet"

It was February in North Dakota, but it was a strange day. It was 5 o'clock in the morning--and it was raining! It doesn't rain in North Dakota in February.

About an hour later--after the automatic coffee was done perking--we got up, and as I went outside to get the newspaper, it was warm enough that I left the door open as I walked across the ramp to the mailbox to fetch the Grand Forks Herald. I was oblivious to the events that happened in that few seconds.

As we sat at the kitchen table, reading the paper and drinking our coffee, I suddenly spotted a little chickadee sitting on Ivan's desk. He didn't seem nervous or upset. He just sat and watched us.

But let me back up a little bit first.

I suppose the reason he (and yes, I was convinced this was a "he") wasn't afraid of us is because for many years we have fed the birds. At least that's the way it started. Soon our resident family of rabbits that have lived under the back shed for several generations began to join the feathered friends. They didn't argue; they all ate together in peace. After a bit, the squirrels came poking around, but they wouldn't touch the birdseed. Ivan decided we should add some nuts to the mixture. Well, I pretty much figured that between him and me there were already enough nuts around, but he got a bag of mixed nuts and put them down right with the birdseed. Again, they all gathered in unity, but the squirrels didn't have enough tooth power to crack the nuts. So, feeling sorry for them, Ivan got some salted peanuts. The squirrels had a grand old time with them, but they were not alone. The blue headed blackbirds (I mistakenly called them "crows" one time when a birdlover was visiting us) also liked the nuts. But, the birds would like the salt off the nuts, then scatter the nuts all over the yard, leaving the squirrels to work up an appetite by playing hide-and-seek for their supper.

Anyway, back to the rainy Feb. day and our friendly visitor. I went and got the broom, hoping to chase him towards the door, and once he got there I figured I could grab the door and open it and he would fly outside.

Wrong! The bird headed, calmly and gently, towards the bedrooms. I went back to find him and he flew over my head back to the kitchen, and he perched atop a high old antique oak cupboard. Ivan asked me why he would sit up there, and I said, "That's easy. He can get a birdseye view from up there."

I realized that the broom would probably scare him, so I went and opened the door and waited to see what he would do. He went back over to Ivan's computer and sat there for a bit, then he went to the organ, which is right beside the door. I was standing off just a little ways to the side of him. He perked his head first one way, then the other, as if to say, "Well, I guess you'll be all right in here." Then he hopped off the organ onto the floor and swaggered out the door. No, he didn't fly out. He was perfectly happy to walk out. As soon as he got outside, he sat on the ramp and looked back at me and let loose with one cute little "chick-a-dee-dee-dee" and then walked down the ramp and around to get his breakfast.

Babs Williams-Wood told me that to Native Americans a bird in the house is a sign of good luck for the coming year. In that case, 2007 should be a very good year!

Ivan wrote a poem about the event. Here it is, for your fun.

Tweety Bird
I saw a little Tweety bird
Who came into our house.
He went from room to room, unheard;
He was quiet as a mouse.

He circled places flying around
Without a single care,
Then went out to the ground
To our habitat, with care.

There he met his friend, the squirrel,
Then the rabbit, so very shy.
Then birdie friends came in a whirl
To join them from the sky.

They ate together ina patch
No bigger than a square,
Even in the snowy catch,
Filled with seeds and flair.

Seemed funny now to see,
Everyone agreed.
If only man could live
In harmony--with no greed.
-Ivan H. Smith, Feb. 2007

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Iraq Vet presents a special moment

A couple of nights ago, when it was warm enough for my husband Ivan and me to come out of hibernation before another cold wave hit North Dakota, we ventured over to our favorite haunt, Red Lobster.

Seated at the table next to us was a young couple, two little boys--I guessed that one was about 2 and the other one about 4, and a middle-aged couple. Listening to their chatter, it was obvious that the older couple were "Grandma and Grandpa," but they seemed to be nearly invisible, at least as far as the boys were concerned. The kids did wave at us, then began to talk a bit, and before long we discovered "the rest of the story," as Paul Harvey would say.

The dad had just finished a tour of duty in Iraq--his third tour. It was his first day home. There was no need to wonder why the boys were so clingy to dad. In their little minds, they were probably afraid he would leave again if they didn't hang on tight enough.

There was no talk about the war and whether it was right or wrong. There was talk about how proud of him we all were. When they finished their meal, we called the waitress over and told her to have them order dessert, on us. They were delighted, especially the boys.

It is not often we get to see such a special day so up close and personal. It was a delight for us to be allowed to intrude on this special family.

No matter what we think of the war, these young men and women are true heroes, and my hat's off to each and every one of them. Thank you.