Monday, July 30, 2007

Another Mouth To Feed...And Another...

There were a few extra mouths to feed around the Meehan homestead this week.

Our son Bram was visiting from his home in Santa Fe, NM for a few days. Mars and I wanted to treat him to some things here in the "Land of Steady Habits" that we knew he couldn't find in "The City Different" - or perhaps anywhere else for that matter. We started off by introducing him to the grocery world of Stew Leonard at the newly opened store in the town adjacent to our own. Ostensibly we went to pick up French Toast bagels and milk from the "award-winning dairy", and for the free samples (clam chowder, orange juice, bialys, meatballs served on stick pretzels, hot dogs, etc.). In reality it was the surrealistically silly singing and dancing animatronic farm animals, milk cartons, and bejeweled blocks of cheese that welcome you to and entertain you within "the world's largest dairy store".

We learned two days later by looking at a state map that the original version of this store is a featured stop on the official Zippy tour of Connecticut, along with the Muffler Man, Giant Bowling Pin, and other phantasmagorical in-state kitsch icons that appear periodically in this Bill Griffith comic strip. This new location is just as entertainingly outre.

On his first night here we went with his grandmother to her favorite Polish restaurant. In spite of the large Polish population in this general area there are only a couple of such eating establishments around. There are however zero of them in Santa Fe. Bram had Bigos - a stew of sauerkraut, cabbage and kielbasa - his usual choice.

Among the rest of the items on his menu this week were: New England Clam Chowder, "Kellys" (miniature Kielbasa locally produced), and self-picked blueberries.

He was easy - just give him here what he can't get there.

The difficult ones are the summer crop of pre and barely post fledglings that are making their annoyingly shrill little voices heard around our suddenly overwhelmed bird feeders.

A family of three grackles commandeers our bird feeder and the adjacent area several times a day. The trio is all of the same size and color so it is impossible to tell their relative family positions until the actual feeding begins. Who are the feed-ers and who is the feed-ee becomes obvious when one of the three hops onto the wrought iron plant holder near our bird feeder and sits quietly with plaintive eyes and open mouth. One of the other two then attempts to contort its larger-than-the-feeder-body torso onto the much-smaller-than-their-feet perch located at the base. After several inglorious slips and falls the food gatherer finally succeeds in hanging on long enough to get a mouthful of nourishment and flies over to transfer it from their tightly closed bill to junior's wide open one. Curiously no words are spoken during the entire process.

The other mouths however are much more vocal.

The loudest are a trio of House Sparrow beaks that thrust themselves out of the tiny hole at the end of the tree branch within which they reside and yip repeatedly as mom and dad circulate to and from the feeders attempting to quell the appetite of their offspring.

On a quiet morning if you stand near the tree you can hear the tiny sounds of the young birds reverberating within the thick dead Flowering Crab branch. The hole was originally created by a male Downey Woodpecker who inexplicably disappeared after completing his extreme makeover, so we were expecting that a family of birds would be our guests this summer. We just didn't know what kind. Now we are concerned that the little guys are going to become too fat to leave. Or that one or more of the tots will fall out of the "nest" and either Mars or I will have use our bamboo toast tongs to stuff them back into their penthouse residence.

In addition to this family drama another set of sparrow parents are busy tending to a young gray bird that seems to be about twice the size of either one of them. Mars thinks that the young'un is just fluffing himself up while I am convinced that he is in fact of different ethnicity than his parents and is ultimately not only going to totally dwarf them (perhaps by a factor of eighteen or twenty to one), but also increase his demands to include not only non-stop deliveries but a more varied diet including possibly sushi and other nouvelle cuisine entrees.

Screw Stew's! Fans of Zippy should make their pilgrimage to our front-yard instead. The free samples are nonexistent but the performers are, in our opinion, more entertaining - and, best of all, live.

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