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. "