Saturday, February 2, 2008

Burgers, or steak


Our birds are snobs.

Well, they’re not our birds, actually—they’re the neighborhood birds that frequent our yard. But I think of them as ours…and now they’ve become quite standoffish.

Why, you ask? Because, you see, I purchased bargain birdseed for them. I was paying what I considered to be too much money for the good birdseed that these hoity toits love—the oiled black sunflower, primarily, with some other yummies mixed in. None of it was cheap, of course—the good stuff never is, now, is it? And the squirrels were scaling the feeder like determined little army recruits, and every day the feeder was emptied. I felt sad for the birds, but mostly I felt annoyance at the squirrels. And I thought, I’ll show you, squirrels—I’ll buy inexpensive seed that you don’t want. Then the poor, hungry birds can eat their fill instead of being terrorized by a climbing, swinging swirl of furry gray.

And the next time I bought seed, I paid $3.99 for 20 pounds. That’s right. 20 pounds. Except I forgot something: Just because they’re hungry doesn’t mean they’re desperate.

I remember the first time I figured this out. I was helping out at a grocery store, doing a volunteer project; I was to guard a table positioned in the store’s entryway on which shoppers were leaving donations for the local food bank. And as people dropped off their non-perishables, I was stupidly thinking Wow, look at all the great stuff people are giving. Of course, there were the typical donations of generic canned soup, store-brand beans, bargain pastas, etc. But there were good things, too: name brand soups and stews, expensive meats in tins and such, even famous boxed cereals sporting multi-colored spokes-animals. And slowly but surely, my brain said to me, Hey dummy, just because people are experiencing financial hardship, that doesn’t mean they’ve lost their sense of taste. They still like what everyone else likes. That doesn’t mean that someone in need couldn’t use my donated lima beans… but boy, I’ll bet they were wishing for some Dinty Moore instead.

It’s the same with clothes; it’s easy for me to drop off an old, misshapen sweater with pils on it. But next time someone’s collecting coats and such, maybe I should gather up a couple that I still like, or one that looks like new. That would be a real blessing to someone, right? I mean, if I were hungry, and two different restaurants were giving away meals, I’d go to whichever is closer. But hey, if the two restaurants were a burger joint and an expensive steak place, you can bet I’d work a bit harder to get to the steak place. Wouldn’t you?

And that, my friends, is what the birds—and likely the squirrels, too, those scoundrels—have done. I have a great neighbor a few doors down. She’s single, has a good job, and she loves animals, really loves them. And she has the bird feeder of all feeders, and it is stocked with high-quality seed. I would be willing to bet money that she does not shortchange the winged critters nor the thieving, fluffy-tailed rascals. I’m certain she buys the “steak.” And when I’m serving microwaved burgers, or the birdseed equivalent, I’m pretty much guaranteed an empty yard.

I can’t blame them, really. But I’m still not buying new birdseed until somebody eats all 20 pounds of this cheap stuff.

3 comments:

Facie :-) said...

Mel,

You make a great point about giving away good stuff. But until I can part with the things I love (and pretty much nothing I have is fancy or name brand), I will continue to give away my less desirable things to goodwill. Surely, hopefully, someone will appreciate these things, even if they are not top of the line or in mint condition.

But your post also makes me want to go off on a rant about people without money who seem to find it for other things. For example, on the news you see a person who lost everything in a fire and did not have the money to pay for insurance. Yet that same person is telling her story with a cigarette hanging out of her mouth. Cutting out one pack of cigarettes per week should more than pay for renter's insurance. Or how about the friend who complains she has no money, yet goes out for dinner or some other form of entertainment seemingly every week? Don't say you don't have money when you do stuff!

I wish I weren't so cynical about these things! But I try to live a simple life. It may not be the "Live like no one else so you can live like no one else" life yet. But it is a lot better than most others in this "gotta-have-it-now" culture.

Done ranting. Sorry. I will go to my own blog now, and maybe change it to rantings instead of ramblings!

Mel said...

oh Facie--you've put into words what so many of us think every day. it's true. definitions of "real need" vary from person to person, and your points are well taken. I guess I don't let myself picture those hypocritical people when I'm trying to do the right thing, b/c if I do, then I'll never be moved to do that right thing. I know not everyone takes advantage of kind gestures or spends paychecks on cigs and booze, so I just pray that true needs are met and that wise counsel, NOT handouts, is given to the people who are confused about said issue. try not to let the annoying people get to you--and don't give them anything, except maybe a piece of the truth! ; )

Connie said...

Hi,
Thanks for the great comments about the Zoo. I feel lucky that your blog came up on Google because it led me to read a couple more of your blogs. You're an excellent writer! You probably know that already since you have been in the communications field.

I agree that it is great to visit the Zoo in the winter. You can see the animals clearly and many of them are really active. I think the experience is different in each season. Many of the animals love the rainy spring season too, and there's lots of male posturing going on, because for some it is mating season. The Fall is nice because the plants are really pretty and most all the animals are out.

About the gorillas, Mocha, a female, was recently introduced to the group and there has been some active breeding happening between her and Harry. Harry is the silverback who loves to sit by the window and watch the kids. Marithi also sits by the window. It's the silverback's job to protect the troop, and Harry and Mirithi have taken their positions quite seriously. They also like to see their keepers and the docents out there. The keepers have a really good relationship with the apes. It is quite amazing to witness.

I have to go back to work. But, thanks again for the nice comments.