Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Water Accident and Scrub Jay Diversions

Miss Gimpy is very broody right now.

I had just returned home from lunch with old friends--where I heard some particularly distressing news about another family I care about. I went outside to feed my scrub jay friends, to take my mind off things.

It was sunny and gorgeous outside after a week of grey and cold. There was a pile of wood in my driveway--the gift of a kind neighbor who scrounged it for me, delivered it, and chain-sawed it into nice fireplace-size pieces. 

I decided to roll up my sleeves, load the wood into the wheel barrow, and move it to the wood pile.  Nothing like a little fresh air and exercise to postpone the contemplation of the dark side of mankind. It would have been a quiet hour of work--if it hadn't been for that darned faucet.

I had to take the wheel barrow down one step as I rolled it en route to the wood pile. On my third trip, the side of the barrow crashed into one of my father's oddly-rigged, ancient faucets. The plastic pipe cracked, then broke entirely, and the water, now released from its prison, spewed out all over the remains of last summer's vegetable garden.

It wasn't a disaster. If water has to go and spew out somewhere, the garden is a much better place for it than, say, the living room floor. The trouble is, I had forgotten to ask my Dad where the water shut-off valve was. Always meant to: and then it was too late.

I ran around trying to find it. Meanwhile, my two scrub jay friends, Ms. Gimpy and Mr. Peanut--who I believe are in the middle of planning a family--were alerted by the noise of the water and immediately began diving in and around the faucet and the nearby Japanese maple tree, scolding the spraying water,  calling out to me, and jabbering to one another about the hot news that trouble of some sort was afoot. Or in their case a-wing.

Find Ms. Gimpy and win a prize.  She has a nut in her mouth which Mr. Peanut gave her!

My cross-the-street neighbor is handy in a crisis, but I knew he was on vacation. Still, he had two of his landscaping employees working at his house--and both are good at fixing just about anything.

I ran over there. Gonzalo is very kind and responded immediately.  On the way across the street he indicated--I say indicated, because his English is limited and my Spanish is worse--to me using hand gestures and eye rolling and a few other motions, that I should get myself a live-in hombre of my very own to handle just such times as these. The subject was much too complex for me to discuss with hand gestures while crossing the street in the middle of a garden emergency. So I put that discussion on Pause.
Ms. Gimpy, meanwhile, had perched herself on a low branch of the Japanese maple and watched Gonzalo as he approached the faucet and found the shut-off valve, while Mr. Peanut flew over and perched on a branch at the top of the maple. Both stared at the interloper. I had never seen them do this before.

They continued to watch as the water was turned off. And as Gonzalo stood there for a moment, hidden behind Mom's old rose bush, Ms. Gimpy floated down and began eating from my hand.

Gonzalo was the one staring now.  He said--or indicated, whatever--this was the first time he has ever seen such a thing and it seemed to delight him. When she flew up into the tree again, he departed to get his tool kit.

Ms. Gimpy having a quick snack, but still keeping an eye on the action.

When he returned, neither Ms. Gimpy (on low branch near the faucet) and Mr. Peanut (on a high branch) would come down from the tree to eat, no matter how I coaxed them. Another first. They just sat and watched the noisy repair in progress. From time to time Mr. Peanut would scold Gonzalo to, "Hurry Up! Hurry Up!" and Ms. Gimpy would nod. She does not yell and she does not like loud noises. She is kind of fluffed up and broody these days.

Ms. Gimpy, pretending she is a statue.

If Gonzalo had to go to the front yard for something, Ms. Gimpy would float down, crunch on a few seeds from my hand, and fly back up into the tree when she saw him returning.

When the repair was made, the two of them looked at each other and seemed to say: "Well, thank goodness. I thought she would never get that fixed." And, with that, they flew away. I wasn't sure if they had been sitting there looking out for me, or expecting me to look out for them.

Or, maybe they were just interested in knowing how one repairs a garden faucet. I've read they are very intelligent birds.

I walked inside smiling at the funny crisis and the birds interest in it, still thinking about the family I know who is burdened with great sorrow. Then, I found the basket my friends had brought to lunch with them to give me: oranges from their garden and one perfect camilia they had picked a few hours before.

My adventure with the water, the birds, and returning to the gifts of nature and kindness were all reminders, once again, that for each sorrow, there is always a little bit of joy, waiting to surprise you, just around the corner.

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