Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

From the 50s and 60s to today . . .



Thursday, May 10, 2018

Birdbaths for the Birdbrained

What we wanted.

What we got.





Debbie and I had spent the morning dreaming about the big ‘B’.
Boys.
All of whom were fascinating and none of whom were interested.
Sigh.
We were drooling over yet another male lead in a long line-up of romantic movies.
This one was a Western. My personal favourite.
Mmmmm . . .
Suddenly, Debbie jumped up and shut off the TV right in the middle of blood and blue shadows under the midnight sun.
Who does that?!
“I want to do something,” she announced.
I glowered at her and briefly considered pointing out that we were doing something. Her whole demeanour suggested . . . action. Which probably meant that, sooner or later, I was going to have to get off the couch.
Ugh.
“I want to build a birdbath.”
I stared. Had I heard her correctly?
“I’m serious!” Her voice started to gain in pitch and enthusiasm. “I saw one in a magazine article. It was made of cement and had an all ‘dignified and harmonious-with-nature’ theme. It started with a little pool up top, then plunging down a waterfall  to iridescent bubbles at the bottom!” In her eagerness, she began to pace.
I hated it when she did that.
“We could make a little thatched roof to limit weather-ly interference.” She spun around to face me. “So what do you think?!”
I should point out here that her asking me that was merely a magnanimous gesture. We were doing it. She just wanted me to feel included.
I rolled my eyes and pushed myself to my feet. Let’s get this over with . . .
Pulling her little brother’s wagon, the two of us walked downtown to the hardware store. Then followed a frenzied rush to grab anything she thought would help. And the expenditure of two months of allowance.
As we toted her baggage home, she talked endlessly about the indelible impression her creation would make. About how the town gentry would stroll past, abandoning their normally impartial opinions in their excitement over this brush with the . . . wet and bird-like.
Yeah, she dreamt big, that Debbie.
What followed could only be considered inhumane – which is really ironic, considering we were creating something to benefit nature.
Because I was a farm girl – with muscles - I hauled cement. Mixed cement. Formed cement in a great hole which I had also helped dig.
Then I collapsed.
Debbie looked at the mass of grey glop in the bottom of our hole and then at her exhausted friend.
“It’s perfect!” she said.
I, too, looked into the hole. At the plop of cement in the bottom. Seriously?
Debbie got the garden hose and filled the little indent in the top of her creation. “See? Perfect!”
I blinked. Then turned to look at the paraphernalia strewn about. “What about . . .?” I got no further.
“Perfect!” Debbie nodded decisively, then gathered everything else up and packed it away.
After that, when the weather cooperated, Debbie happily filled her birdbath. Her beautiful, aesthetically-pleasing work of art.
Well, to her . . .
Debbie’s family moved away from Milk River decades ago.
But I think her birdbath sits there to this day.
A monument to what can be accomplished by the lazy and unmotivated. 
Or of an afternoon spent with a friend.
Take your pick.

7 comments:

  1. I think we have all known a Debbie.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I guess it was a masterpiece in her own mind but I'm sure you both had fun.

    ReplyDelete
  3. But what did the birds think? :)

    ReplyDelete
  4. What a story. It's a sweet memory. How do you come up with all these memories?

    ReplyDelete
  5. My friends convinced me to skip school one afternoon in June . . . my mother was a teacher and I was a quiet, obedient sort, so this was far out of my usual behavior range. Howeve, everybody except two students skipped together so the teacher couldn't really do anything - whew!

    That birdbath was a good idea - you just needed a mold instead of a hole in the ground, I'd say :D

    ReplyDelete
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