I'm delighted to announce that everyone's favorite Boston-based free parenting magazine, Boston Parent's Paper, has published my essay "Just the Two of Us", (a HILARIOUS rundown on how hard parenting with myself can be) in the January issue. I am very happy to be included in a truly great publication. Make sure to pick up a copy when you go to Stop & Shop on your way home tonight. Or, check out my stuff and the rest of the great parenting content here:
Parent on, parents.
For the first time in my life I have a hobby. I've tried in the past to get into yoga or crocheting or baking, but nothing ever seemed to stick. I mean, I liked doing each of these things once in a while, but hobbies, to me, are a chance to really take a deep dive into something non-essential (like baking is) and that you really enjoy. Finally, I discovered birds. I mean, they had always been there, but I discovered that if you looked out a window or walked around a park you could see a lot of them. A pair of binoculars and an Audubon book later, and I discovered that there were lots of different birds and that they were awesome. Birding (not bird watching, if you please) is the best hobby in the world if you, first of all, like birds, and then: 1) don't like moving much 2) like the idea of feeling accomplished just by seeing something with your eyes 3) like to spout off a bunch of jargon and bird names whenever possible. For me, this hobby is a total win.
Having a toddler and a full-time job, I don't really get to spend as much time as I'd like birding. But in these circumstance one must make time when one can, and for me that's often during my lunch break in the woods around my office park. Being Winter, I always see tons of nuthatches, titmice, juncos, blue jays, and chickadees fliting around. Chickadees (of the black-capped variety) are the best because very often you can get them to eat sunflower seeds out of your hand, and I assure you that the feeling of their nervous little claws on my palm is about as exciting as my life gets. And I'm not dissing my life either. I have a great life. But literally my favorite thing in the world to do is to get a chickadee, or a nuthatch (!), to eat out of my hand.
So obviously I started carrying seeds in my pocket to the office, just in case. I saw this was mildly insane behavior, but it just made sense because then I could pop outside when there was a lull in work and stalk chickadees in the wooded island that the upper parking lot surrounds.
Creeping around in such a manner is not normal. I'm not sure if I even need to say that. No one else does this kind of thing at my office, and as much as I eager to interact with the chickadees, I am always super aware of how nutty I might look, stalking through what is clearly meant to be a decorative wooded area and thrusting a handful of seeds into the air. The one thing that keeps me from totally worryinh about what people might think is that I am sort of cute (in an adowable way, not in a hot way. Maybe there is a person out there who thinks, "Look at that grown woman traipsing into the office park woods looking for birds to be her friends. She's sure attractive!") Bright pink coat, silly hat, cheerful attitude. More like: "Aw! Look at her! She's so cute! She sure loves her birds!" If I were dressed in a dirty black duster and a ski mask, maybe it would be a little more off-putting, but I aim for adorably eclectic, perhaps a little simple, and I don't worry so much.
Then yesterday I kicked it up a notch. After successfully calling a cardinal into my yard with a pre-recorded cardinal song, because of course I did, I hit bird island with a chickadee song posed to play on an app on my phone***, because of course I have that, and found myself standing with a handful of birdseed and a cellphone loudly playing "chicka-dee-dee-dee!" over and over again. I took a moment to step outside of myself and take in this picture from an objective standpoint and quickly came to the conclusion that I looked batshit crazy. And people were walking by as I did this, mind you - the Fedex guy, some dude from my office I don't know - they all saw me doing this. And the damn chickadees were not buying what I was selling at all. They stayed far away for the lunatic in the pink puffer jacker and the pre-recorded call, because of course they did.
Some people would call it quits at this point both from a "looking insane" and a "the chicadees don't really want to be your friend, bro" angle, but once one goes down the rabbit hole of crazy, there's really no reason to come out. So I will continue to bird in the parking lot, and even if the chickadees never come, at least I think I'm cute.
*** I just talked to the folks at Mass Audubon, specifically the Important Bird Program, and they said don't play recordings of birds to attract birds. It's not safe for the birds! Also, you might be swearing at them and you wouldn't know. But seriously, don't do it. Also, it's probably best to not hand feed chickadees. It was a good talk.