Red Birds

I’ve never been a bird-watcher. When I see them, I think they’re beautiful, but I’m not someone who puts out a bird feeder and watches to see what happens for relaxation value. This week alone though, I’ve seen a lot of cardinals (Also you should know I think all red birds are cardinals). Probably 7 or 8. And never in my life have I seen one before that I can remember. I started to think of it as mom coming to check in on me, or let me know she was still around. Think what you want about it. It’s not theology, it’s just a little desperation dressed in hope. 

One time I saw the bird out my window on the back deck, and a few I’ve seen from the car window. One I saw perched in a tree while walking the Greenway with a friend yesterday. But today, not once, but TWICE, the bird behavior was a little….off. Before I tell you about it, you have to understand a few things though.

Number one, my mom was HORRIBLE with directions. There was no “take highway 74 to exit 35 and make a right turn” (I made all that up. I know nothing about exits on highway 74 if there even are any. I inherited this from her. Just go with it). It had to be, “turn left like you’re going to T.J. Maxx but before you get to that red light where you go in the parking lot, veer to the right near Walgreens.” If she were to ever get lost, a map was not going to help. Unless it had pictures of buildings on it that were familiar to her, it was useless. Her theory was, if you ever get lost, just keep making right turns til you figure out where you are. 

Number two, she once had a bird experience. It was before I was born, but over the course of my life she told me about it a few times, so I know it stuck with her. Literally. Apparently one day she was driving to work and she tried to swerve and miss hitting a bird, but she wasn’t quick enough, and the bird ended up stuck to the grill of her car. She was traumatized by it. Feathers were flying everywhere, and she didn’t know where the bird went, she just knew she didn’t see it anymore. When she got to work and realized the poor thing was stuck to her car, she had to have someone else come get it off for her because she couldn’t bring herself to do it. She also hit squirrels sometimes, but this story isn’t about squirrels. 

Third, when I bought my Jeep, mom was convinced I did it to prevent having her ride with me. She had so much trouble climbing in and out of the Jeep that it was worth buying just to watch for the entertainment value. 

So not once but TWICE this week. I have been riding down the road, and seen a red bird and thought, “Aww, there’s another one,” and smiled as I associated the bird with my mom. Then the bird seems to be flying towards my car. I want to swerve, but the bird is flying at an angle where it wouldn’t really matter anyway, the damage would be done, and a Jeep Wrangler with a lift kit is not meant to be jerked suddenly without repercussions. 

Both times I have internally cringed, holding my breath until the bird clears the car. And both times, I have smiled to myself and thought, “Of course if mom comes to visit me as a bird, she’s going to have a terrible sense of direction and not be watching where she’s going.”

The good news is, I have managed not to hit the birds either time. Accidentally killing one would be too morbid even for my sick and twisted sense of humor. Maybe I’ll get a bird house instead, and draw a map that says, “turn right at the taco place and keep driving until you see the neighborhood sign on the right, then turn at the next driveway.” Just to be safe. And if you see a white Jeep Wrangler with a red bird stuck to the grill, do me a favor and peel it off? I’ve been through enough this year. 

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