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Be Content, and Seek No New

July 26, 2004

You might know the sound — a tap and a thump, at once. Cats know this sound.

By chance, I heard it one day. I ran outside immediately, but a cat was already there below the window, peering at the stunned bird as if on point, waiting for movement.

After effecting the departure of the cat, I carefully untangled the bird from the long grass. Its wings and legs were twisted and limp, but it was alive. I tucked its limbs back into place and held it in my cupped hands.

We sat for a while on the deck, with my back to the cool breeze as a windbreak. For a long time, the bird was utterly limp and opened its eyes only briefly. Eventually, I felt some tonus and saw the indescribable quality of alertness in its eyes. I placed it on top of a bird feeder.

It stayed there a long time, and I began to fear it was dying. Then, when I checked again, half a dozen birds were on the feeders and in the nearby trees.

Pardon my anthropomorphism, but they seemed to be cheering the bird on, chirping and flying about. The next time I looked, the bird was gone. I checked to see if it had fallen but found nothing except a healthy bird dropping where it had sat. I took this as a good sign rather than a parting remark.

Next, I was waiting for traffic at 4th and F one night after work. It was already dark, and I spotted a cyclist coming fast down F Street. He disappeared in the shadows along Alpine Park, so I waited for him to pass.

He passed into the light of the intersection and my headlights. He was grinning happily. He was naked … except for the American flag he wore as a cape, which flapped behind him.

Another shadowy cyclist came pedaling wildly, so I waited again — you never know — but it was merely another boy, clothed, who struggled to pedal but apparently had lost his strength to laughter.

There’s no relationship between these two events and the library. I just like living here, and there’s two examples of why. Even the birds are nice.

I suppose I could say something about the nude cyclist and freedom of speech, but I assume he was just being enthusiastic on a balmy evening, perhaps about Lance Armstrong’s stage win in the Tour de France that day.

It’s hard to know about the birds. I think we tend to intuit less community among other animals and more among humans than is justified. But I remain fascinated by our small community and its politics and subcultures.

There’s no end of cooperation, despite the appearance of continual bickering. Just look at all the sponsors and volunteers for the upcoming Chaffee County Fair.

Immediately after the fair, Shakespeare’s “The Taming of the Shrew” is coming to Riverside Park, thanks to the cooperation of “Art Works. For the Heart of the Rockies,” Salida’s “Stage Left” theatre group, the Salida Recreation Department, plus a host of hosts and sponsors who will bring Theatreworks from Colorado Springs to Salida.

Theatreworks will perform the play on three successive nights, August 5-7, on the stage in Riverside Park. The performances are free and open to all. But that’s not all! Each day, Theatreworks will also hold short workshops on theater topics that will be open to all ages.

“Since this fortune falls to you, Be content, and seek no new.”


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One Comment
  1. Vicky permalink

    Dear Jeff:

    I like the bird and usually enjoy bird-watching; hence after reading this article, I have very strong distaste for that cat abusing the innocent bird.

    Months ago I watched a TV program titled “bird of paradise”; these kinds of bird have different species and are a native to one mountain of Australia; they look so extremely beautiful and magnificent, so local tribe call them “bird of God” or “bird of paradise”.

    It happens that I have a poem about the flower called “bird of paradise” and would like to share it with everybody —

    A Flower — The Bird of Paradise

    Holding back for 30 days in bud
    Completely infatuated with growing days
    And full of joyful, wavering bashfulness

    Imagining life maturity extending
    To the moment of splendidness and meaningfulness
    — Please allow me wearing the vermilion crown
    With delicate, pleasant footstep
    And take bright, light-purple canoe

    Who knows? Once stepping out of waiting
    Stretching my neck all day long
    Forgetting the mundaneness
    Only I am fascinated by the western paradise
    Fantasizing about feathering out
    To become the Bird of Paradise forever


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