Bird Call

For the first four or five years that we lived in this AZ house, a couple of about our age lived next door. We were friendly, but didn’t socialize at all. Eventually, the man of the couple became a nudist. Actually, I have no idea when he started living without a stitch, but we became aware of it after about five years of living next door because Bill saw him in the garage with nothing on except a baseball cap. He gave Bill a friendly wave, and continued with his garage business that apparently required a baseball cap but nothing else. After that first sighting, it became commonplace to see him with nothing on but a pair of thong underwear. And a baseball cap.

While we were friendly with him, at least to say hi and ask him to keep an eye on our place when we were back in Denver for the summer and fall, I spoke to his wife only once in my life. I have no idea whether or not she was also a nudist. She was fully clothed the one and only time we spoke, but it’s hard to imagine her sitting on the sofa in flannel pajamas and bunny slippers while he sat next to her naked as the day he was born. Who knows? They moved shortly after, and I will admit that I wasn’t sorry to see them go. I’m certain they found a nudist +55 community somewhere.

Anyhoo, the one and only time I spoke with the missus, we talked about the baby birds that had recently hatched and were living in a nest in our front yard tree. She had seen one of the baby birds fall (or was he pushed?) from the nest and was expressing sadness at its death. She had probably already cried on her husbands’ naked shoulder.

I think of her sometimes when I see the birds in our neighborhood and around our AZ house. We have nothing but cacti and thorny bushes in our AZ yard, having gotten rid of the front yard tree years ago (not because of the birds, but because it shed something literally endlessly and got on Bill’s last nerve). Our Denver back yard, on the other hand, is simply beautiful. Our lot is a third of an acre, and the front yard is small. So our back yard is lush and has many beautiful trees, including four fruit trees. I put out a bird feeder every summer. Ironically, we get an assortment of birds, and many of them, in Arizona, but I can’t seem to get even the smallest house finches to come to my feeder in Denver. They used to come, but something changed, and they turn their noses (or beaks) up at my feeder. I hear crows in our trees in the morning, but that’s really about it. Caw. Caw. Caw.

The other morning, I was sitting in my chair reading, and saw something land on our patio. It was two quails — a male and a female. I know their genders because one had a beautiful red cap and the other had none. You can guess which one wore the red cap.

You might remember that last year, a female quail laid her eggs in my geranium plant, and proceeded to sit on the eggs the rest of the time we were there. We left at the beginning of May, but returned for our nieces wedding in June. The eggs were hatched — all but two — and the birds were nowhere in sight. In my world, they flew away happily.

But back to the two quails that were on our patio. I have seen them — or I think it’s them — walking along our fence almost every day. This was the first time they had landed on our patio. As I watched, they came closer and closer to our patio door. They were right outside the door looking in when the mail did the funniest thing. He began pecking on our glass patio door. He pecked and pecked and pecked. It was like he could see in and wanted me to open the door to let them in. We were having an early heat wave, and he seemed to be saying, “Let us in. We can hear your air conditioner running, and would appreciate a break from the heat.”

Bill was in the kitchen, and I softly told him to come into the living room very quietly and slowly. He did, and we sat and watched those birds for the longest time. They finally gave up, and flew away.

God made some funny creatures, but I have to say that quails are among his best. And funniest.