Friday, February 18, 2011

A Bird's Eye View

C is finally getting over his flu, and now that the weather is warm he's been working outside all day. My mom hired him to refinish a cabinet for her bathroom, and we've also started putting our garden in. Between those two projects, he's been a constant presence in the backyard, and the birds at the feeder are getting very used to him. Yesterday he wondered how close he could get to the feeder without the birds being afraid. As he had the thought, a sparrow landed on the feeder and began to eat seeds, and C decided to creep slowly towards it. Beginning at about 15 feet away from the feeder, he slowly moved closer and closer, until he was a foot away from the bird! Still, it ignored him and kept eating sunflower seeds. He looked closely at the little bird, and suddenly realized--it was blind in one eye! The eye that should have seen him was completely cloudy and useless. When C made a noise, the sparrow turned its head around, saw him, and flew away, lighting clumsily on a high branch of the oak tree. Of all the birds that come to our backyard, the one half-blind one happened to come right when C wanted to get close to a bird. What are the chances of that?

Sunday, February 6, 2011

History is History

Yesterday I had to go to the Post Office to mail my scissors to Gingher to get sharpened, but C is still suffering from a bad case of the flu, so I went out alone. "Be careful out there!" he said. The post office is only about 2 miles from my house, but it's in a strange neighborhood which requires a lot of defensive driving. It's more like an obstacle course. While I was driving there I encountered a car being pushed by five Mexican guys, a pack of teenage guys walking their bikes and taking up the whole left lane of the road, and a car that was parked in the road while two people were casually putting suitcases in the trunk.

There was a Dollar Tree right next to the Post Office, so I decided to go in and get C some Cheetos. When I have a cold I crave salt and vinegar potato chips. He craves Cheetos, and I thought it would cheer him up to indulge. So I grabbed the Cheetos and got in line. Now, I don't really think about it because it doesn't really matter to me, but it's true that I was the only white person in the busy dollar store. Come to think of it, besides the Mexican guys, every person I'd seen so far while running my errands had been a black person.

Anyway, as I was standing there in line at the dollar store, this big lady walked into the store and started saying hello to people. Eventually, she made her way past me and then stopped at the woman in line behind me, and this is how their conversation went:

Big Lady: Excuse me, I'd like to invite you to my Black History Month party.

Lady in Line: Okay, is it at a church?

Big Lady: No, it's at the library. Why, wouldn't you go if it was at a church? That's sad.

Lady in Line: Not for some people.

Big Lady: (clutching the Lady In Line's shoulder, and oozing false sweetness) Don't worry, I won't put you in any categories.

Then the big lady walked away, and the woman in line behind me asked me, "Did she invite you?" I told her no, she hadn't, maybe because I'm not black. The woman shook her head and said, "That ain't right."

Then it was my turn to check out, and I left the dollar store, but kept thinking about those ladies and Black History Month and how history is history, no matter who it happened to. We are all Americans, black or white, and we share a past just as we share a future.