The Out-of-Context Pigeon

On Tuesday morning, I was sitting outside on our balcony, one of my favorite places to be in the mornings, when an unusual vision materialized before my eyes: a pigeon in a tree. It was more than unusual, I realized as I watched the bird. It was almost unheard of, about as rare as finding me in a Costco. (Costco gives me panic attacks. I don’t know why.)

It’s probably safe to say that I’ve seen more pigeons “in the wild” than any other type of bird. I’ve known them to be street birds, pavement birds, train station, dirt path and riverside birds. I know them from parking lots, rooftops, sidewalks and gutters. They’re a common sight in city parks, at strip malls and on school grounds, and I’ve even seen them nesting on other people’s balconies.

Pigeons are special in that they’re the only birds I’ve seen everywhere except in trees, and that is one reason why I like them. They are among us. Come to think of it, I don’t even really regard them as birds. They’re pigeons.

When I realized that the bird in the tree in front of me was a pigeon, I had to step inside and grab my camera. You know me.

It was mostly just surprising to see how a pigeon can shrug off his common cloak to become an utterly exotic bird when he’s in a tree.

For one thing, his usual stances and postures are replaced by those typical of any other bird in a tree… a bird delicately positioned on a limb (in this case, a frond, as the tree is a Phoenix date palm) instead of standing solid on the ground. I think that’s another reason why it took a minute to realize that he was a pigeon… he held himself differently, perching, balancing, being… un-pigeon-like. Rather than doing the urban pigeon-walk, he hopped lightly and fluttered, and because his movements were different, his colors flashed in the sunlight differently, too. I’ve always found pigeons to be beautiful, but now I could appreciate his beauty in a whole new way.

So, pictures. When I showed these to Callaghan, he laughed.

“These are four pictures of the same thing!”

“No they aren’t!” I protested, laughing. “Look closely – his posture is different in every one.”

Callaghan often makes fun of me for “taking 200 pictures of the exact same thing” every time I whip out my camera. It’s true, I do tend to take a zillion shots of my subject, whatever it is. I like to capture those minute differences in angle and lighting. Also, I know that out of the many, I’m going to get at least one really good one.

Here are my four favorites of this guy:

 

It was the emerald sheen on his outstretched neck that caught my eye first.

It was the emerald sheen on his outstretched neck that caught my eye first.

 

Hmm, this bird looks familiar...

Hmm, this bird looks familiar…

 

He turns to look at me as if to say, "Why yes, I am PIGEON!"

He turns to look at me as if to say, “Why yes, I am PIGEON!”

 

Standing proud.

Standing proud.

 

High in the sky, that pigeon. Not on the ground.

What I’m Digging Right Now – November Favorites

Why hello, December! I can’t believe it’s already time to recount the blessings of November.

November was all about road trips and nesting and family. Between driving from Austin to Phoenix, and Phoenix to San Jose, and San Jose back to Phoenix, we clocked in more than 40 hours on the road… and it was worth every second. November’s main highlights were moving back to Arizona and going to spend Thanksgiving with my family in California.

November’s “BEST OF” to note:

1). Being back in the desert.

 

This was actually taken yesterday (in December), but it continues November's brilliant sun and gentle warmth, so here you go. Sitting outside in a t-shirt, blessedly dry in the absence of humidity!

This was actually taken yesterday (in December), but it continues November’s brilliant sun and gentle warmth, so here you go. Sitting outside in a t-shirt, blessedly dry in the absence of humidity!

 

Phoenix date palms lit up for the holidays

Phoenix date palms lit up for the holidays

 

2). Music: Steve Earle, my favorite country artist and one of my all-time favorite musicians, period. He’s a wonderful poet, and I love his unique sound… it flows between country, country-rock and alternative country, rich with folksy, rock n roll and bluegrass flavors here and there. He’s just amazing. I made a playlist of my favorite Steve Earle songs and burned the CD for our trip out of Texas. It was perfect!

 

My Steve Earle CDs: El Corazon, Townes, I Feel Alright, Copperhead Road and Jerusalem.

My Steve Earle CDs: El Corazon, Townes, I Feel Alright, Copperhead Road and Jerusalem.

 

3). Target’s generic brand energy drink (Archer Farms). We think it out-red bulls Red Bull, and it’s very tasty.

 

The energy drink that fueled our many hours on the road in November. It's Target's brand. I love the raspberry flavor, too.

The energy drink that fueled our many hours on the road in November. It’s Target’s brand. I love the raspberry flavor, too.

 

4). Living in downtown Tempe.

 

On the patio at the Handlebar in the middle of the night, just because we could. I guess it's debatable whether living near Mill Ave is a plus or a hazard. Nah... it's definitely a plus.

On the patio at the Handlebar in the middle of the night, just because we could. I guess it’s debatable whether living near Mill Ave is a plus or a hazard. Nah… it’s definitely a plus.

 

Arizona State University's Sun Devil Stadium, down the street from our apartment. We get to hear the fireworks when the Devils score, and that's a lot these days!

Arizona State University’s Sun Devil Stadium, down the street from our apartment. We get to hear the fireworks when the Devils score, and that’s a lot these days!

 

5). Re-visiting favorite old hang-outs.

 

Alice Cooperstown, Alice's sports bar/restaurant in downtown Phoenix. Major points for nostalgia here.

Alice Cooperstown, Alice’s sports bar/restaurant in downtown Phoenix. Major points for nostalgia here.

 

6). Feeling truly at home again! After books, houseplants define “home” to me.

 

Our first houseplants in three years! They're temporarily named "His Plant" and "My Plant," respectively (L - R). I have a special fondness for spider plants.

Our first houseplants in three years! They’re temporarily named “His Plant” and “My Plant,” respectively (L – R). I have a special fondness for spider plants.

 

7). My house-warming gift to myself, which didn’t cost me a cent.

 

I took some old books to Bookman's and traded them for the hand-made Greek (Rhodes) Bonis plate on the right.

I took some old books to Bookman’s and traded them for the hand-made Greek (Rhodes) Bonis plate on the right.

 

8). Dexter.  We binge-watched the entire eight seasons, starting in Texas and ending in Arizona.

 

Our favorite serial killer. And everyone else's, I suppose.

Our favorite serial killer. And everyone else’s, I suppose.

 

9). November’s rave-worthy beauty product was (and continues to be) Garnier Fructis Triple Nutrition Miracle Dry Oil for Hair, Body & Face. I spray a little in my palm, rub my hands together and run them through my dry air, and it leaves a nice sheen. Callaghan also loves it for his skin.

 

This oil defies the dryness of the desert without leaving you greasy. LOVE IT.

This oil defies the dryness of the desert without leaving you greasy. LOVE IT.

 

10). Two Very Happy, Satisfied At-Home Kitties.

 

Nounours at home on his blanky!

Nounours at home on his blanky!

 

Ronnie James at home on the love seat!

Ronnie James at home on the love seat!

 

And last, but far from least: Thanksgiving in California, a last-minute decision that was the best decision ever!