Wednesday, March 16, 2011

"Out Of Place" White-winged Crossbill, Common Redpolls


Common redpolls and White-winged crossbill March 14, 2011 Phippsburg, Maine
White-winged Crossbill, male March 14, 2011 Phippsburg, Maine
     A flock of about a hundred and thirty Common redpolls is still here. Among them has been this lone, male, White-winged crossbill. As boreal forest birds, it's highly unusual for either species to be here this late into spring. Maine has seen unprecedented numbers of Common redpolls this winter. Though they look somewhat out of place, the birds seem comfortable in this environment far from their northern homes. They don't spook easily and are aggressive at the feeders. I've carefully studied the flock of redpolls hoping to see a Hoary redpoll, but no such luck. I did notice that some of the Common redpolls were wearing high heels and the White-winged crossbill was wearing false eye lashes. Hoping to fit in, boreal birds are known to don this type of attire when they travel south to the cities.
     My husband and I just came back from a trip. We travelled south to see family and to see the Philadelphia Flower Show. Though we only went to New Jersey and Pennsylvania, for us it was a big trip. Jersey and PA are after all, south of here and closer to spring. We don't often get off the Phippsburg peninsula, and when I do it usually involves a police escort and zip ties. My children have both moved away from Maine and I sometimes wonder if my reputation is one of the reasons they fled. But, they haven't completely escaped me; occasionally, I visit them. And when I do, I try to clean up my act. Both of my kids are now adults. They have complete lives with respectable jobs, friends and images of their own far removed from when they lived with me. I don't want to embarrass them. I remember with crystalline clarity the days when I held my breath fearing that it was they who would embarrass me. I don't recall anything either of them actually did that mortified me, but I do recall the anxiety of fearing that they might.
     My daughter's life is now in New Jersey, land of concrete, asphalt and the most shopping malls per square mile of all fifty states. She is a stylish, citified and gorgeous, young woman. She wears huge, hoop earrings and boots with four inch heels as day-to-day wear. On her worst day, she looks like a super model.
    I, on the other hand, live where practical shoes dictate all outfits. I look comparatively like a troll that's lost its bridge. I sleep in plaid flannel and wear snow shoes to bed! The day we left, it was zero degrees Fahrenheit and we still had two feet of snow pack, making these nightwear choices prudent. Most days, I'm also bundled in layers of mismatched fleece.
     My daughter and I had not seen each other in eight months. Suddenly, I envisioned myself through her eyes. I looked like a bear! Now, the mortification tables had turned and I felt woefully inadequate. I would have to do something radical to myself in order to not be an embarrassing hick, a gnarly Nanook of The North, an Ellie May Clampet without great legs. First off, I bought high heeled boots. For several days, while in my bathrobe, I wore them around the house for practice. Nothing pegs a country girl quite so fast as when she falls off her own shoes. After I had that licked, I got a hair cut. That involved two and a half hours in a salon chair. With a reciprocating saw, the beautician whacked a foot off my coif. It took half a pound off my body weight and ten years from my face. But, I wasn't done.
   Of late, on television, I've been watching Real Housewives Of Atlanta. The trashy, reality TV series fascinates me because the women are preposterous. Yet, they do exist in real life, albeit in a bizarre social context. They represent a world and people so far removed from me that I find it easier to conjure Martians. And, in that respect, I find them educational. It's always good to get in touch with what's out there that you can't possibly imagine. I also learned something practical beyond the bare sociology, too.
     I discovered that they all wear false eye lashes and they wear them all the time! The fake eye lashes are what account for some of their vapid, doe-eyed blinking. I noticed this when one of the ladies was crying in a fit of despair and her eye lash came off in her hand like a soggy caterpillar. Some of the "housewives" are not classically pretty women, but they do have gobs of money to throw at their problems. They definitely know how to make the most out of their less than perfect god given selves. So, I decided I'd try it. I'm sure that they spend bundles on expensive false eye lashes made from the furs of endangered mammals. But, I bought a five dollar set from a chain drug store in the same aisle as the cigarettes, condoms and on sale cans of Spanish peanuts.
    Like the high heeled boots, it took some practice in the privacy of my own home to master the application. Naturally, or not - as the case may be, I put them on crooked a couple of times. I got the adhesive in my eyes more than once, which ruled out reading anything for a couple of hours, but I persevered - anything for the cause of fashion. When I left for New Jersey, I no longer looked like a country bumpkin; I looked like a squinting bear with a thorn in its foot and a limp.
     I'm just not a glamorous person and my fashion artifice left me feeling like a silly fraud. In the mirror, I saw a stranger in my own skin. Beneath the Bambi lashes, killer heels and  fancy do, I was still just me. I know my daughter loves me regardless of what I look like or even if I were to embarrass her. She loves me as I love her, unconditionally, no matter what. She sees me for who I really am and I feel beautiful in her eyes; I feel okay. It's a pivotal moment for parents when we realize that our children accept us for who we are, and sometimes for who we are not. From the moment my children were born they have punctuated my life with moments of beautiful clarity.
Displaced Baltimore Oriole at the 2011 Philadelphia Flower Show
"No matter how foolish you feel, someone always looks worse. "

30 comments:

  1. Delightful, and oh, so true!! I'm as you are and very out of place during my visit to TX, but I am me, and that's that! I packed my plaid flannels in a separate suitcase hoping it would defray the embarrassment, but before long, I donned them in all their glory and waited out the arctic blast that blew through the state. Truthfully, I think I was the only warm person in all of S. TX. The hair? Left it long and simple. Now we'll see how my friends in Dallas take to the me they haven't seen in 12 years. I was a different girl then! Thanks for the smile and the great photos. ~karen

    ReplyDelete
  2. Karen, thank you for the read, view and comment. Im glad it made you laugh. And, you my dear painted a great visual of yourself!

    ReplyDelete
  3. flannel bed wear ??? Love the crossbill photo
    almost looks like an oriole,hmmm ?Great shots.bmc

    ReplyDelete
  4. Thank you, bmc. Yes, flannel bed wear and snow shoes, mitigated for my husband by false eye lashes. Mine, not his.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Oh that crossbill is a darling. Great shots. I wish OS could render your images a bit better. It must not like images that are hosted from blogspot. Your originals are 1600 pixels wide while the column width for OS is 485 pixels. Because I use Flickr for hosting, I just change the html they provide to 485 x whatever before posting. I wonder if blogspot would do that for you as well.

    That last image is just a hoot. Thanks!
    bbd
    March 16, 2011 06:07

    ReplyDelete
  6. Great photos - and I thnk you should stick to your guns - fashionwise, that is.
    Sarah Cavanaugh
    March 16, 2011 06:48

    ReplyDelete
  7. Sarah, thank you for that. Wait until you see me with my colored eye lashes that coordinate with my outfits! Oh! Just STOP me before I hurt myself!

    ReplyDelete
  8. bbd, Thank you very much for all the techno info. If you double click on the images, you'll get a full screen view on any monitor. The colages were created with a standard 4:3 aspect ratio. As for Open Salon's column limitations, I don't think I can fix that since I use a blogspot template. But, if anyone knows how, let me know, please. I'm open to all the info you've got! And, apologies if anyone knows that lady. I do admire her starch.

    ReplyDelete
  9. An anonymous photographer in Phippsburg is on the case. His/her assignment is to capture Ms. Robinson in the early morning, in all her splendor, complete with fluttering false eyelashes, in her flannel bear costume while limping along with her longest lens camera. If he/her is successful, the plan is to nominate the photographer for the Pulitzer Prize for capturing an image of the Totman Cove Monster.

    ReplyDelete
  10. That's sommmmmmmmme hat! She wasn't there the day we were. I think I'd have remembered! Love the birds, too.
    AtHomePilgrim
    March 17, 2011 05:30 AMAtHomePilgrim

    ReplyDelete
  11. Flaky, it really pains me to say this, but thank you. It's great to know you are reading, viewing and saying something. You ought not to have tipped me off re: the espionage, though. I'll be watching.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Well, now I know what to expect when I see you birding Phippsburg - heeled boots on Seawall Beach (good luck with that on the beach), bovine eyelashes to keep the mosquitos away - very functional, and an oriole crown.


    Can't wait.


    Best, Peter

    ReplyDelete
  13. My RedPolls appear to be leaving now, and I have not seen any crossbills. Yesterday a huge flock of Bohemian Waxwings cleaned off all the berries exposed by melting snow, and then left. Amazing!! Boom & Gary of the Vermilon River, Canada.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Hi, you asppirant to the 'bird of paradise' title - I could still find areas of New Jersey that have not been paved over, but you were down for 'a taste of civilization' and to parade your recent honors, not to go seek out park areas that were no doubt under water or very muddy! Many of the bridges shown on tv have not changed since the 30's and knowing where houses were placed in the 60's - thought provoking.

    ReplyDelete
  15. White wings crossbill! Wow I've never seen it... We have now the common crossbill in Iceland. Looks like he has set up a pop. For the redpoll we have tons of mealy redpoll. Beautiful pictures.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Thanks, Chris. Nice to be able to introduce a new bird to folks. I've never seen a Red crossbill, so you could send it if you would. Thank you for the read, view and comment, not to mention the compliment! Oh, wait: I just did mention that, didn't I?

    ReplyDelete
  17. Your blog was full of unusual things and I enjoyed it--would have loved to see you in high heeled boots, new haircut and big eyelashes. What did your daughter think? Like you, I feel a gulf between myself and the kind of woman you described from tv. Even my daughter, who gets most of her clothes from thrift shops, manages to look elegant. I am afraid I am deficient in this area. I loved your Popham photo.

    ReplyDelete
  18. A great set of images. Well done!
    Still a nice week.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Robin, you made my afternoon; I laughed so hard, I almost p...d in my pants! Your description of your make-over reminds me of how I feel when wearing my mud boots and waxed jacket into town and what I should do about it, but then I realize I have outgrown that. What a relief! Lovely homage to your daughter by the way. Great pictures of the Redpolls and the male White-winged Crossbill!

    ReplyDelete
  20. Hi Robin. Lots of Redpolls around here this winter but very flighty. A sighting of a Common Crossbill would be good for me and you find a White-winged ... how cool is that.
    Thanks for making me chuckle about the 'makeover'. It's what's inside that makes us who we are not the external facade. I'm sticking with the camouflage greys and browns for now plus the grey top-knot!! Cheers FAB.

    ReplyDelete
  21. Hilke, Mick and Fotokarusellen, thank you for the views, reads and comments. Hilke, there is no greater reward for a writer than to create an emotional response, and especially gut busting laughter! I don't think that there is an honest woman in her fifth decade and beyond who hasn't done something like I did. Maybe not fake lashes, but something rediculous and desperate. If we are lucky, we do outgrow it.

    ReplyDelete
  22. Great post Robin. I had a much needed smile, while I read it.
    Beautiful bird shots too.

    ReplyDelete
  23. What a terrific read. I am allergic to mirrors, they effect my self-esteem so poorly that I don't keep many around. I guess we wilderness fashionistas give the city people reason to smile. My wardrobe is sponsored by the Salvation Army!

    ReplyDelete
  24. Springman, Thanks for that, and you in kind made me smile. "wilderness fashionista," HA! I wish I had thougth of that, toooooo funny! And, my labels are all "GW." I find the product line better than "SA."

    ReplyDelete
  25. You know Morgan loves you more than anything in the world! She is fully aware of how wonderful her Mom is- with or without fake eyelashes!!!!
    Ms. Boo

    ReplyDelete
  26. Thank you, Ms. Boo. You have to admit though that great lashes help!

    ReplyDelete
  27. Well Robin, I don't know what to say. Your bird photos are excellent but your story is the best thing I've read in a long, long time. Your prose are so visual that I felt like I was there, watching the entire episode.

    It sounds like you have a wonderful relationship with your kids and they love you very much, probably as much as you love them.

    Let me know when you write your first book. I want to read it!

    ReplyDelete
  28. Larry, I just read your comment which for some reason I had missed. Thank you so very much for that. It delights me to no end to make people laugh, and it seems to most often at my own expense. I am very fortunate that I do have a splendid relationship with my children. Someday maybe if I'm really lucky, someone out there will see the value in publishing something I have written. I can't thank you enough for that.

    ReplyDelete