Saturday, June 14, 2014

Gibbs probably doesn't feed birds

The blue jay circled above the house. He could see the bird feeders in the backyard and a few birds fluttering around. He was unsure if this space was safe or if he should move along on down the line. Then he spotted it - the symbol that let him know that all was safe and good. He landed on the edge of deck and then made his way to the food. It was a good place and he knew he would return.

There are three things you should know about my dad:
  1. He likes to watch NCIS reruns on USA (even if he has seen the episode multiple times)
  2. He maintains three bird feeders in his backyard, including one for hummingbirds
  3. He has a high tolerance for the ridiculous and the silly which serves him well in our family
My parents really enjoy the birds that seem to flock to their backyard. It's probably the one thing that they truly like about their house and where they live. The bird feeders are on the back deck and you can watch the birds from the kitchen table. I imagine it's a nice way to start your day - a little coffee or tea, some cereal, and the baby woodpecker and it's mama. Nature - that's what they get for living out in "the country." My mother likes spring best (I think) since all the baby birds are around and it's fun to watch them figure out how to fly. My father seems to enjoy identifying the birds and even has a bird book (although I don't know that he uses it all that often).

Here's the thing - I think that my parents, particularly my father, are helping to create an entire generation of lazy birds. What happens when my parents move? Will instinct take back over and the birds will remember how to forage and find food on their own? Will the squirrels remember how to store food for the winter? What will happen? My dad usually laughs at this, ignores my comments, and moves onto another conversation. He knows that they're birds and they'll figure it out. No need to worry. Cue "The Circle of Life."

Hobo symbols
It's a common conversation I have with my dad whenever I visit. One day, a few years ago, I was watching a re-run of Criminal Minds and the episode's plot had to do with a killer that was murdering people along a train line. Dr. Reid (it may not have been him but I think he's adorable so I'm going to pretend that it's him) discovered some marks along the tracks. He tells whichever other agent is with him about how hobos used to use symbols to communicate with other hobos about the area. They might share if there was a kindhearted woman (with a cat of course) or if the police were a problem. Anyway, the killer was doing something similar along the train line and killing people. I may be off on the plot but the second Dr. Reid started talking about the hobo trail and the symbols, I figured out what was going on at my parents' house.

Their house is a stop on the hobo bird trail.

I'm convinced that the birds have figured out some version of the hobo symbols and fly around the country making the marks on houses and other buildings or whatever to let other birds know what's up. Other birds flock to the house and enjoy the food and then they leave a mark for birds that come after them. I'm not entirely sure what the symbols look like but I'm convinced that my parents' house has every single one of the positive symbols that are available. Squirrels apparently know about it too; there's one there now and he's enormous. If the hawk is still around, it will get him at some point because he won't be able to run away.

So I told my dad that I thought his house was a stop on the hobo bird trail. Because my father is used to the ridiculous things that I say and think up, he didn't really react at first. He thought about it for a few minutes and then asked me a bunch of questions about how I had come to this conclusion. I told him about the Criminal Minds episode and he said, "I watch NCIS." I love that my father completely ignored the ridiculousness of what I was saying and focused instead on my choice of television show. He seemed okay with the idea that he was a stop on the hobo bird trail AND that a hobo bird trail even exists. In fact, I think he was sort of proud of the idea that he's helping the birds.

Some takeaways from this experience:
  1. I haven't watched Criminal Minds since this conversation. Now I watch reruns of NCIS but only reruns on USA. I don't keep up with the current season.
  2. For all you dads or soon to be dads out there: develop the ability to accept the weirdness of your children. I appreciate that my dad doesn't judge any of the weird things my brother and I have come up with over the years and on occasion, he joins in.
  3. There is a hobo bird trail. If you want to be a stop on it, make sure to always stock the bird feeder and be kind to the squirrels that figure out the game. 
  4. Learn something new everyday even if it comes from an unusual source. I wouldn't know about hobo symbols without Criminal Minds. I also cannot leave the shower curtain closed when I leave the house because I'm concerned that Tim Curry's serial killer character will be waiting there when I come home. Thanks Criminal Minds.
Happy Father's Day Dad! Enjoy the birds and continue to cement your place as a prime stop on the hobo bird trail. Maybe you should add a bird bath. I'm sure they'd enjoy the new amenity.

Coming soon to the Island: More summer themed Lazy Movie Weekends (including one on my favorite John Waters movies), Pickles the cat will get into more trouble in an adventure about the end of the world, and I'll visit an amusement park for the first time in 10 years.

 Hobo symbols

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