The Birds and the Bees

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Jumping rope in Central Park. Photo: JH.

Tuesday, June 16, 2020. It was a pleasant, sunny day, yesterday in New York with temps in the low 70s and a little cooler than the weekend before.

It’s the height of Springtime gardens along the streets of Manhattan. JH caught a glimpse this weekend finding beauty everywhere …

Charity Begins At Home. I got this photograph in an email from the Wild Bird Fund last weekend. I opened it and there was this pigeon named Viola looking rather sophisticated and chic sitting in front of the tulips. Beautiful shot of Viola. And the message underneath was Happy Pigeon Appreciation Day! “It’s #PigeonAppreciation Day, the day we celebrate that ubiquitous, gentle and endlessly charming denizen of our sidewalks and parks.

Viola among the tulips by Catherine Quayle.

At first I thought it was a joke.  I know nothing about wild birds except that they’re there. I am entirely amazed by their abilities to feed themselves, reproduce and survive in these canyons of steel, brick, glass and stone. But pigeons are pretty much regarded by the local populous as maybe a cut above the rats in the city. And there are lots of them. 

They’re on the streets all over the city, pecking at the middle of the macadam and the pavements where they’ve obviously found nutrition. They’re very used to all kinds of traffic, human or mechanical. Not infrequently I also see the remains, crushed and bloody, feathers flattened of one run over by a car. Like many of us New Yorkers, they tend to wait till the last millisecond to avoid getting crushed by some mammoth machine (to their eyes) passing by their lunch buffet. 

The message also included some ideas for celebrating Pigeon Day. Such as: Say hello to every pigeon you meet today. Or: Give a pigeon flowers. Sunflowers, that is, and don’t bother with the ugly yellow part – just the beautiful, beautiful raw seeds.  Or: Accidentally let some bird seed fall through the hole that spontaneously developed in your pocket. Oops.

And most especially: 

Donate to your local pigeon hospital, the Wild Bird Fund which cares for thousands of these charmpuffs a year, along with more than 100 other bird species.

The Wild Bird Fund’s mission is twofold: 1) to provide medical care and rehabilitation to injured, ill, and orphaned wildlife of New York City in order to release them back to the wild; and 2) to educate New Yorkers about the rich diversity of the city’s wildlife and how to help them thrive. They are a non-profit 501(c) (3) and the only wildlife rehabilitation facility in New York City.

Each year the Wild Bird Fund rehabilitates more than 7,000 animals. Rehabilitation includes x-rays, diagnostic teting, suregery, medication, bandaging, splinting, physical therapy, and special diets. They treat more than 100 speciies from common house sparrows and Eastern gray squirrels to rarities such as Virginia rails and snowy owls.

A sampling of some of the rescued “charmpuffs” over at the Wild Bird Fund.

From wild birds to wild Bunny.  Also in the email, this was from Bunny Williams’ office, her web site: Bunny Williams’ Point of View. It was featuring a photo story “Cultivating a kitchen garden,” about her garden at her house up in Connecticut. 

Personally, I don’t have/couldn’t have a garden. And I know that if I had the opportunity, I probably wouldn’t have much of a garden because I know it’s work to make it work.  But the photo drew my interest because it was from Bunny, whom I know and admire; and because it looks like a palace garden.

“Bunny often compares successful design to a tossed salad. You need to have interesting ingredients to make a room truly intriguing.” The garden is where her toss salad begins, obviously.

So I moved on to the next photo and caption reading about Bunny’s garden. All the while always amazed by her huge capacity for work that’s creative. Her approach to her garden, flowers and food producing is actually  scientific, figuring out what works and how to use, and how to revive and renew it.

This woman is a worker. I’ve known her for many years now. We’re both “older” yet when you’ve known someone for a long time, older is a minor description. What astounds me is her enterprising approach to everything she does, and her work involves nature’s best, and an aesthetic that welcomes and is soft and gentle, like the birds of a feather.

Coincidentally that afternoon I also got a message from another friend who also has known Bunny for a long long time.  She had talked on the phone to Bunny a few weeks ago, and when she hung up, she was depressed. “Only because she was so busy and so positive and just looking ahead!  How does she do it?!”

Meanwhile the garden is a feast for the eye itself. I found myself reading about how she creates it, and thinking to myself in these times we’ve been experiencing, that Bunny might not even know about a lockdown or the depression it has created for millions of Americans. Because you can tell when you read about this garden that the woman, besides her famous interior design business, is simply a worker, working, growing, planning, and back again everyday, no matter where she is. It’s her pleasure, all that work, and its result, the beauty, is her reward. 

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