Feed the Birds

What if I just dump the seed on the ground?…

My parents were used to being nomadic. They’d pack their RV and call from wherever the road led to tell me they arrived safely. Recent health issues clipped their wings. When stationary, my parents drove themselves and anyone within a fifteen mile radius crazy.

I fell within that radius. “What can I do to give you some happiness?” I asked them.

“Fill my birdfeeders.” Mom said. Mom loved to watch the birds from the bay window.

“If your mother’s happy, I’m happy.” Dad said. He’s a good man.

I was happy they didn’t want me to house clean or do laundry. Filling the birdfeeders would be simple.

I should’ve known better. When I grabbed the bag of birdseed Dad said,” You’ll need a screwdriver and a step stool.”

“I need a screwdriver to pour seed into a box?”

“I modified the feeder.”

Correction, I needed two different screwdrivers, wire cutters, and a bucket truck. I felt a nosebleed coming on looking at the altitude of the feeders.

Where did Dad think we lived, the Serengeti? One feeder hung from a nine foot pole. The other feeder was even higher and zip tied to a tree branch. When I asked why so high, Dad said, “That’s not high. The deer still get the seeds.”

The deer would have to stand on their hind legs and paw at the feeders like a piñata to get a meal. Maybe elephants or giraffes were to blame.

I traded the step stool for a ladder. When I tried to lift the feeder from the hook, it wouldn’t budge. It was wired to the post.

“Why wired?” I shouted to Dad as he watched me from the window.

“Bears.” Once, about fifteen years ago, a bear knocked their birdfeeder down and broke it, this same feeder, no doubt.

“That’s why you need the screwdriver.”

Yep, same feeder. Dad fixed it by reattaching the bottom with screws, two different types of screws. The first screw had a straight edge that, in the absence of a screwdriver, could be undone with a butter knife. I’d rather use a butter knife than venture into the hellhole disguised as a garage. The other screw was a precise sized hexagonal thingy. Looking forward, I foresaw that by undoing the screws I’d have to lift the filled bird feeder back up the ladder and screw it back into place.

I went to find wire cutters. If I cut the feeder down, I could fill it from the top as intended.

Dad tapped on the window and pointed. Huh? I couldn’t hear him. Honestly, the ladder needed turned to reach the birdfeeder secured to the sequoia with industrial wire. I’d bet an orangutan with opposable thumbs, wire cutters, and the strength of seven men couldn’t undo Dad’s bear proofing.

I couldn’t undo the wire either. I searched the garage for a hexagonal screwdriver. After three tries to find the right size, I hoisted the metal feeder filled with seeds and climbed back up the ladder. I balanced fifteen pounds of happiness on my shoulder while I fiddled with two different screws and screwdrivers.

Two hours to fill a box with seeds was ridiculous. Then I jabbed my hand with a rusted wire. I’d probably end up with tetanus.

Next week, I took Mom shopping for a new birdfeeder. As I lifted the brand new, easy fill bird buffet up the ladder, Dad tapped on the window.

“You need to secure it with a zip tie.”

“Why? Will squirrels steal it?”

“Yes, the ties are in the garage under the joiner.”

Back to the hellhole I went. First, I had to find the joiner. Oh, I knew what a joiner looked like. A joiner was a piece of machinery that squared the edge of a board. I really had to find the machine somewhere under logs, sawdust, plumbing supplies or possibly hamster house add-ons and boxes of definitely not gold bars….

The next time I filled the feeder, Dad wasn’t watching from the window. I skipped the zip tie. Filling the feeders took five minutes.

Mom called the next day. “Raccoons tipped the feeder. It’s empty.”

Tetanus would’ve been easier to deal with as compared to feeding the birds.

Published in Funny Times-October 2019

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