The Square Peg – Round Robin
© S. Bradley Stoner
So, most of you know I put out bird feeders. Apparently this has triggered something of a competition among my neighbors. Yep, we’ve given our feathered friends a veritable cornucopia of choice. The peeps can now do a round robin, stopping off at Bob’s Buffet, chow down at Charlie’s café, or sate their appetites at Brad’s Borgasmord (yeah, I know how to spell the real word, but it doesn’t roll of the tongue as neatly… besides there was this commercial back in the 70’s… oh never mind.).
Charlie was actually the second to start blowing his allowance on bird seed. His wife complained that all the birds had deserted their back yard and she had “seen them flocking to Brad’s back yard.” So, Charlie hauled out his table saw, found his hammer and some nails, and proceeded to build a backyard bird feeder, which he hung from the low hanging limb on his oak tree in the back. Now Charlie’s wife could have gone to the store to buy the bird seed, but no, the bag was “too heavy.” Instead she dispatched Charlie to get the chore done, which is a little odd since Charlie has a pace maker and is about ten years his wife’s senior. Oh well, it gets him out of the house… or should I say the garage where he spends most of his time tinkering with things. Like I should talk.
Anyway, Charlie climbs in his 1972 Chevy pickup truck, puts in in first, and crawls out of the neighborhood, headed for the Walmart. The Walmart is less than two miles away. Charlie’s gone for two hours. Some might have wondered if his pace maker gave out while carrying that big bag of bird seed out to his truck in a hundred, sunbaked degree weather, but I knew better. I’ve followed Charlie’s truck out of the neighborhood a couple of times. I don’t think it goes over five miles an hour, so it’s going to take some time. Right? Finally, he gets back with the bird food and in a scant two hours more, he’s got the feeder loaded.
How do I know all this? Well, Charlie stopped by for a quick visit a couple of days later and told me all about it. Two and a half hours later he had exhausted all the things he wanted to talk about and apparently himself. He announced that he thought he’d head home for a nap.
Bingo Bob, on the other hand was a late comer to the competition. He showed up about two weeks later as I was doing a little work in my garage.
“Whatcha up to?” he asked.
I didn’t jump this time… I saw him coming. “About five foot ten,” I replied.
“Well, I used to be six feet tall, but age has shrunk me about two inches,” I explained.
“Oh,” Bob sniggered a little. “Gotcha.”
While Bob chattered on, I continued to work. Finally I had to switch on my table saw to cut a couple of small boards. Even though I held up a finger to let him know he needed to wait one, he kept right on flapping his lips. I could see them moving, but the saw drowned out whatever he was saying, Not that it mattered much. A lot of times Bob just talks to hear himself talk. I switched off the saw.
“…something?” Bob finished the question.
“I said, are you building something?”
“Why no, Bob. I’m just turning little pieces of wood into sawdust so I can sweep it up.”
Bob shrugged. “I guess you’ve got your reasons. Well, since you’re not busy doing anything constructive, I was wondering if you would mind building me a couple of bird feeders? I mean, you’ve got a whole pile of scrap wood over there,” he pointed at the neat stacks of wood left over from other projects, “so it would save it from going to the dump.”
“Well, I suppose I could,” I returned, “but you should know I charge $15 an hour plus materials.”
“Geez, Brad, it’s scrap for crying out loud… and besides, you’re retired. I figured you have the time and would probably enjoy the project.”
“Let me get this straight, Bob… you think because I’m retired I should do stuff for free?”
“Go home, Bob.”
“What about the bird feeder?”
“Try the Walmart, Bob.”
Anyway, long story short (yeah, I know, too late for that), Bob went and got a couple of bird feeders and a big bag of bird seed. So now the competition was on… but I have a secret weapon… two small fountains and one big one. The birds come for the food and stay for the water.
Charlie’s wife got a bird bath, but it was from one of those dollar stores and it was made out of plastic. Plastic doesn’t do well under the Texas sun, so in about two weeks, the basin had cracked and it only holds water for about a half an hour… and Charlie got tired of refilling it so often. Now it just sits there.
Bob bought a fancy pedestal bird bath with a big glass bowl that sits on the top… or did… right until we got that last storm that put down gusts of 59+ mph. It doesn’t sit on top anymore… it lays on the ground… in about five hundred pieces. One of these day’s Bob will clean it up.
Never-the-less, the birds now have more food than they ever had before. This causes the birds to get fat, as well as to engage in certain energy-demanding activities that normally would have ended in April… May at the latest. Not this year. Yep… we’re having a population explosion. That results in another cause and effect relationship, but we’ll talk about that later