Island Blog – Talking Bird

When I step out to fill up the bird feeders and to sprinkle the lowground table with no-mess, no-grow seed, the garden birds hide deep inside the potentilla. Buttery blooms coat the outside leaves, their faces upturned to a tissue paper sky. There is rain up there somewhere, but this bothers not my feathered friends. I hear the chattering. Sparrows, always in a group, finches, gold, red and colours of the earth, coal blackbirds, glint of eye with orange beaks, their mates speckled breasted and altogether bigger. Not that being bigger means much in Blackbird World. The women always get second best. It’s the same for us, I tell them in my soft bird voice, as one male scoots out in angry pursuit of his hen. They eyeball me and scoot just as quickly back into shelter with a storm rise of accusation v justification. She gives as good as he, I can hear her having the last word. As I complete my round, the brave ones appear. Siskins on the sunflower hearts, goldfinches on the nijer, blackbirds still busy fighting over who gets what. I watch them through the window.

Yesterday I met a friend for lunch. We haven’t seen each other for a year so I knew our meeting would have no struggle with a word exchange or two. Add the woman who took our order and served us. Now there are three women engaging in each other’s stories, ideas and opinions. Very dynamic and enough to send all males running for the hills. Women talk too much, they mutter into their pints, returning almost immediately to that infuriating silence that tells all women men are basically not interested at all in anything beyond their work, football or the politics of the country. Certainly not in how someone is feeling. We don’t mention feelings, we men. In fact, I think you will find we don’t feel at all and we most certainly never use the word in public.

Birds Talk. Birds talk Bird Talk. In a short hour or so, we women covered more ground than Yosemite National Park and by the time it came to goodbyes, we knew a great deal about each other, about many other others, about how they must feel about this or that inside their lives. We also know how to apply the best calming oils to ageing knees, how awful it must be for so-and-so to still be waiting for the builder to come make window repairs after over a year; how to shoot rosemary through a lemon posset and where best to plant echinacea for a strong healthy crop. I learned about leaving the broken child in the past, about holidays planned and appropriate clothing purchased. I heard of loneliness and despair, of a good manicurist, of where not to go for a haircut or colour. I learned of those hurting and those healing. I heard of nature and the metaphysical world, the chances sent to all of us to connect with our otherness. And I heard and discussed so much more. In one little hour, three women, sometimes talking all at once, forged a bond that will remain in all of our minds for sometime to come. At times when we feel blue or black we will dive deep into the colours of that random connection and find new strength, particularly the one we all need so badly around our silent menfolk.

Women talk too much. Well, thank the gods for that.

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