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Are you going to stop the madness and fly?
Kathy Bradley mugWeb
Kathy Bradley
    It started about three weeks ago. Tap. Tap. Tap. Silence for about 30 seconds, then tap. Tap. Tap.
     I walked to the door and saw a mockingbird dive bombing the patio door. Beak against glass. Tap. Tap. Tap.
     Poor thing, I thought. He sees his reflection in the glass and wants to scare away that other bird. And I got all thoughtful, saw myself in the mockingbird - that way that I tend to notice, analyze and criticize in others the things in myself that most make me want to cringe.
     Poor thing.
     But then I walked outside onto the deck. Sympathy and thoughtfulness evaporated. All over the deck railings, the deck floor and the lawn chair were bird droppings. Purple and white poop interspersed with unidentified seeds.
     I forgot about self-analysis and insight. I forgot about appreciation of the natural world. I forgot about life lessons. I was nothing less than completely irritated.
     No more, "Poor thing." Now it was, "Come on, stupid bird. How many times do you have to crash your brain into the glass before you figure it out? And why in the world do you have to poop every time you do it?" I'm sure there is an actual answer to that last question, but I'm not sure I want to know it.
     I sighed - not a shallow, slightly sad exhalation, but a deep, forceful expulsion - and went back inside.   At least, I reminded myself, someone was coming the next day to pressure wash the house. What fortunate timing.
     The next morning Travis sprayed off a couple years' worth of dust and cobwebs and dirt dauber nests and kamikaze mockingbird poop. The deck railings, along with the front porch rockers, which had also been victimized, were sparkling white. I stood with my hands on my hips breathing in the early autumn air and lapsed back into generosity toward the poor bird.
     Travis hadn't been gone for 15 minutes when I heard it. Tap. Tap. Tap.
     No! Not again!
     Yes. Again. Bright purple splotches at the foot of the patio door, along the railings.
     If I were a woman bent toward profanity I would probably have uttered some at that moment. Instead all I could muster was, like Charlie Brown, a long, loud, drawn-out, "AAUUGGHH!!"
     A handful of wet wipes later, most of the avian fecal matter had been cleaned up. An hour later the whole process (Tap. Tap. Tap. AAUUGGHH!! Wipe.) was repeated when I discovered that the bird had resumed his attack on the front porch windows.
     By sundown I had given up. Thrown in the wet wipes. Raised the wing of the mockingbird and declared him the undisputed champ.
     It's been three weeks. The splotches have multiplied and dried into powdery Rorschach tests. New ones greet me every afternoon. The tapping continues and I find myself wondering if, like the anonymous narrator of "The Raven," I should just open the door and invite the bird in. Maybe he has something to say.
     And, of course, he does. It is, in fact, exactly what I heard him saying before I got so angry and stopped listening. It is always myself that I see in the intolerant, ungrateful and indecisive. It is my hands that remain folded in the presence of so much need, my voice that remains silent in a world that needs to hear truth.
    Are you ... tap ... going to keep doing ... tap, tap, tap ... the same old things ... tap, tap, tap ... and expect different results ... tap, tap ... or are you ... tap ... going to ... tap, tap, tap ... stop the madness ... tap, tap, tap ... and fly?


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