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Slightly Retired

"March is a tantalizing, restless month. He (maybe she) makes sweet promises one day and yanks them back with a cold shrug the next. We've discovered he can get angry and and shake us hard though we've done nothing wrong. March is a frustrating month, hard to love.In the mail arrive the new colorful, shiny catalogs of spring clothes, the new colors, styles. But as sure as we bring out something fresh and spring-like to wear, March strokes his moustache, twirls his black cape and brings cold sweater weather. I can hear his diabolical laugh rumbling across the dark skies. March can be cruel.But spring is coming. I know because of the battle I watched the other afternoon, fought around and above the trees surrounding my house. It was a fierce territorial engagement. The invaders were seven or eight newly arrived bold screeching black crows. The defenders were three noisy, honking geese with a platoon of small birds in support. The maneuvering reminded me of reenacted movie air battles of World War II.The crows swooped and dived, all the while shrieking and screaming over the territory they wanted. The geese, much slower and less agile, had noise advantage with their louder more terrifying whooping and bellowing. Though definitely outmaneuvered by the crows, the geese staunchly stayed in the air defending their dominion. The mixture of small birds that had joined in the fray bravely darted up and about, flying close to the crows, providing confusion and obstruction to the enemy's attack. In the end, I believe it was their fast-moving strategies and ploys plus their shrill shouting that finally decided the conflict and brought the retreat of the audacious, cunning crows.Through it all, I'd been standing on my deck doing my own hollering, a cheering section for the geese and small birds; I had thought at first they would surely lose their battle with the crows. Now I'm taking smug satisfaction that my guys have won and the crows have evidently moved on to make their spring encampment elsewhere. I hope they learned their lesson and won't be back.The aerial cacophony reminded me of another bird from many years ago. When my kids were growing up, we had a Mynah bird. We never knew whether it was a he or she, but decided on he, because he was so messy. He talked very well, picking up phrases quickly and mimicking back often-used words, He provided a lot of surprises and laughs. During one summer, I put the cage out on the deck to get the mess out of the house. It was then we first noticed he started doing a wolf whistle, then he began using rude nasty words. My kids thought it hilarious, I didn't. Mynah birds are not quiet; they shout their vocabulary at the top of their lungs. It wasn't long before we began getting complaints from the neighbors, and we discovered that the kids walking to and from school had noticed the bird on the deck and were having fun teaching him naughty words.I promptly put an ad in the paper, For sale, cheap - Mynah bird with a dirty mouth, A local antique dealer bought him for his shop; I never bothered to check whether the foul bird boosted sales or not.In spite of March's impertinent behavior, I know spring is on the way as more and more birds show up for their free breakfast, lunch and dinner, Occasionally, I have the feeling I'm being hoodwinked by these feathered guys and gals, plus the resident squirrels -- they are taking advantage of my generous nature. I wonder if it could be possible there are some enterprising birds out there lining up customers and demanding fees for my free food.However, it is exciting for me to step out in the morning and hear the welcoming sunrise revival meeting that has been missing all winter. For fun, I listen for the one who is off key, the flat note or the monotone. As yet, I've only heard perfect pitch and find it utterly beautiful and awesome.I'm particularly glad so many people on South Whidbey put out seed and other goodies for the birds because a friend in Seattle recently told me, The birds in Seattle are all gone. I hope they've found a home here. "

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