Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Of Sticks and Starlings

Why do old country women hate starlings so? Matty never had any time for them – said they were dirty birds and full of fleas. And Pearlie and Lizzie seem to detest them too. Pearlie hates most birds unless they’re the pretty garden variety. She loathed pigeons, used to climb ladders to kill the squabs in their nests and claims to have killed crows by swinging at them with her stick.

We’ve a starling’s nest in one of the chimneys. Matty said, when she heard of it, that they’d fill the house ‘full of fleas’ but despite her dire warnings we’ve not lit a fire for ages for fear of singeing their little birdy bottoms. Then there’s the one that cheeps all night. At first we thought it was deserted in the nest and there was one night I was heartscalded listening to it and thinking of it starving to death. But it, or something, is still cheeping well into the night so I suspect it’s just a hungry hoor.

Aunt Lizzie heard it and wasn’t pleased. “If I got it,” she said, “I’d hit it a chap with my stick. That’d put the cheeping out of it! Them starlings is nothing but rubbitch!”

In my opinion old women shouldn’t be allowed to have sticks. They’re always waving them about, trying to hit people and chapping wee innocent birds.

Then Lizzie goes and leaves her stick in the van when Bert left her home. Pearlie was vexed and made Bert bring it into her house to ‘keep it out of harm’s way’. Bert says to his ma,

Sure what harm would it come to in the van?

Ye’d only loase it!

How would I lose it?

Oh – ye’d likely be kepping bastes way it or chapping something way it.

Sure what would I be kepping? D’ye think I drive about the country looking for bastes to kep?

Well ye might be hemmering something way it and break it!

Later Bert says to me,

Can you just see it - I’m wanting to drive a nail and I say to myself, ‘Now will I use this hammer here or will I just use Aunt Lizzie’s stick?’

And it turns out that the cheeping starling is actually a short eared owl. I saw it this evening! I wonder if Lizzie will still want to chap it with her stick?


Ronni said...

I'm glad you didn't singe its little birdie bottom.

Or chap it with a stick.

Nelly said...

I saw the little owlet again when I came home from work. Bert say's it's a long eared owl. Lizzie says she wishes it had been starlings because owls are terribly bad luck! Balderdash I say.