Powder & Passings

Tuesday, May 05, 2020

Walking with a smart bird perched on a shoulder or arm is a slow process. For starters, it’s about trying to get that bird to talk or simply talking to it in a one-way dialog. The bird’s listening for a smart bird doesn’t miss a beat. If my bird, Peaches, is silent, he responds physically by cuddling and nuzzling. Sometimes he feels like participating in a conversation. That’s how Peaches and I stroll together.

These days we bump into many neighborhood folks on the streets. Some are old friends like Susie who wondered about all the white that coated my black sweater (it’s powder from parrot wings). Strangers who pass may pause and greet Peaches, with “Hello”. Despite my urging he often refuses to answer. After they pass and are beyond earshot, he pipes, “Bye, bye!”

We’re an odd couple, me and the very white parrot on my arm. As we’re walking, I must appear to be talking to air. There’s no telling why I patter nonstop to a bird that’s also in his own world. Maybe trying to keep him tuned to me, or to teach him a new sight or a word, and to encourage responses in his language or mine.

Suddenly, two geese flying low and passing nearby make Peaches scream for several seconds. Those strangers surprised and frightened him. Something interesting is that Peaches doesn’t appear to scan the sky, as I’ve noticed other smart birds doing, to look for overhead predators. Well, Peaches’ wide vision is incredibly accurate so who knows where he’s looking or what he’s seeing?

Anyway, with Peaches I keep an eye on the sky, after warnings from bird fanciers that a hawk might drop and grab Peaches from my shoulder. That seems unlikely but our neighborhood does have resident hawks. Helpfully, Peaches enjoys standing on my forearm and snuggling against my chest, more protected than when he’s on my shoulder.

Walking slowly and entertaining the bird keeps me looking closely at our surroundings. Here’s a plant that surprised me. I’d never seen it. “Look, Peaches, at this giant Lily of the Valley.” Afterwards, I see it frequently, including on my property. According to my phone app, it’s a currant, interchangeably called a Wax currant, Squaw currant, or White-flowered currant.

Arriving at my small acreage, Peaches and I enter in a new spot–and voila!–directly beside one of those currants. And now it’s a sight beyond wonderful, for on the plant a huge honeybee working hard hops from flower-to-flower draining them. A fat and healthy bee, probably from a nearby well-kept hive, and I need a picture. Hastening for my cellphone while juggling Peaches is disruptive, and before I can organize, alas, the bee has flown.

I’m hopeful and said to Peaches, “That bee lives in our territory, knows this plant, and will be back. We’ll watch and wait.”

Dear Friends: Outings with Peaches capture so much, we’ll share more with you. Diana

2 thoughts on “Powder & Passings

  1. I also didn’t notice the local native current all over my property for about 10 years. The wild currents in western Oregon have larger clusters of scented bright pink or red flowers and big bunches of bright fed juicy fruit. The shrub are thick and bushy and grow 8 feet or higher. Ours have single blossoms and small kind of dry bland fruits which are mostly seed. And most of the year they blend in with the bitter brush. But they are actually really adapted to the desert and one of the few plants which will snuggle up to junipers which produce a growth inhibitor that suppresses a lot of plants.

    The tiny blossoms are actually quite beautiful, a combination of white and salmon pink. I am surprised someone hasn’t bred them as an ornamental shrub like the other local native yellow current which grows along riverbanks and has a clove scent. These guys apparently are palatable to birds and animals who spread the seeds all over. The some of the ones on my property seems to live only about 5-10 years before getting spindly and dying out, giving way to younger plants, including the ones that get water in my flower beds. Pruning does help.
    But there is a patch across from us one house down next to Paloma in full sun with large shrubs which has been there at least 30 years.

    They produce a lot more berries in wetter years. A friend of my once went up on Grizzly Mtn. and collected enough to make jelly which was actually very tasty. I don’t think anyone has managed to grow them in a patch, but I’m intrigued to try it in a area I’ve been reserving for growing the Klamath wild plums whuch I never had any luck finding a source for. The seeds I collected from around Summer Lake never spotted.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks for the primer on local currants, Bill. Of course, you’re always very involved with the surroundings. I’ll start asking you about neighborhood plants that invite curiosity. My phone app recognizes an attractive weed on my place. I wonder about it and will send a photo in case you know the plant.


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