Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Mystery on the Wing

 With spring rustling in the air, new visitors have been showing up daily to the bird feeder proving to be a distraction for the woman inside pecking away at the computer. And let me tell you, she has looked for any reason to be distracted.

I’m coming to the end of another screenplay. For several reasons I’m not at liberty to share just now, I wrote this story outside my usual genre. It's a mystery. I now possess new admiration for all mystery writers, because I’ve had a brain cramp for going on three months. There’ve been several times I’ve been tempted to hit the delete button on the whole file. With all the twists and turns, clues and red herrings, I’ve been afraid I was going to lead my protagonist right over a literary cliff. Thankfully, here near the end, she has lived to see another day, but barely.

When my new birds showed up, I considered it my ornithological duty to find out who they were. So what if it took a few hours with my nose in a field guide.
I recognized a goldfinch, and identified a pine warbler from  the Cornell site.
However, there remained one bird I couldn’t seem to place. Shades of warblers in the fall. I even brought my son who’s studying to be a wildlife biologist into the search.

“We’re studying raptors, not songbirds right now,” he said when I showed him a picture my mystery bird.

No help.

While taking a break from the screenplay, I found myself ensnared in an entirely different kind of mystery. More brain camp as I poured over page after page of the field guide comparing females and males, spring plumage against winter plumage.

And then the unthinkable happened.

I came home to find one of my unidentified birds struck down in the prime of life dead on my welcome mat--a gift from the formerly feral Mama Kitty.

It took me most of an afternoon to get over.

“Why do cats do that?” I complained to my son while the now docile Mama Kitty napped on the sofa in my office.

He stroked her.  “She likes you, so she’s bringing you meat offerings. On, the brighter side, you can look more closely at the bird now to find out what it is.”

He’s spent a good portion of this last year in his professional program to be a wildlife biologist looking at animal skin and scat.

Oh, deliver me. I’ve known artists who keep dead animals in their freezers so they’re always accessible for reference. Not happening here.

Thankfully, another of the birds showed up at the feeder. I think it’s a pine siskin. I’m not an expert, but that’s what I’m going with.

Back to the mystery story now, to untangle a few word snarls. But it’s almost spring, and I don’t want to miss anything great in the backyard, so I’m staying open for more distractions.

Here's hoping it's not a mystery to Mama Kitty  that I can get my own meat.

“…He breathes on winter—suddenly it’s spring” (Psalm 147:18 The Message).

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