Wednesday, May 06, 2009

The brightness of birds, now with the convenience of yarn!

Last week, Captain Adventure’s class had a fieldtrip to the Micke Grove park in Lodi. In a rare departure from what passes for normal around here, parents were not only openly invited to attend (usually we have to go through a “lottery” process, where they say “we have room for 3 parents” and then all fifty of us put in our names and the same three people get “randomly” drawn every stinkin’ time) (but I’m not at all suspicious of how “random” the “random” “drawing” “is”) but were even allowed to provide their own transportation there and back again.

Which is nice, because ordinarily the parent volunteers are not allowed to drive their own relatively quiet vehicles through every Starbucks drive-thru between Point A and Point B to and from fieldtrips – we must take the bus.

With the kids.

All seventeen thousand of them.

And no drive-thrus, coffee-oriented or otherwise.

Which, you know…meh.

So, since I had a Starbucks card burning a hole in my pocket an open slot on my calendar that day, I drove through the nearest Starbucks drive-thru…and the next-but-one nearest Starbucks drive-thru… my beloved son, whose education, amusement and enlightenment were my only focus, over hill and dale (and more hill, and more dale…and a little more dale…and another hill…) to Lodi and the Micke Grove park...where there was gaiety and frolicking and fun, first in the playground and then…the zoo!

The headliners at Micke Grove right now are lorikeets. These are little parrot-like birds that are friendly to the point of being obnoxious. They are hyperactive little beggars, full of vinegar, beautiful, charming, pushy, bratty…and this zoo has got about forty of them in an interactive aviary.

There are several varieties, but the ones that really caught my attention were the Rainbow Lorikeets. Their coloring is so insanely bright you’d swear somebody had artificially dyed their feathers…and also, they were the biggest clowns in the lot.

You can pay a dollar for a cup of nectar, and they will not only fly right onto you but will practically bring their furniture and move into your house because they are very much extremely chummy.

We were both utterly charmed by these little birds. I was entranced by their coloring, and Captain Adventure was nearly in hysterics over their antics. They are absolute professionals when it comes to working a crowd.

I asked if he wanted to go inside their house and see them closer. He said yes. (Actually, he said “yeh-t” because that is how he says ‘yes’ because he has some curious mental block around the ‘s’ sound, but really that’s neither here nor there.)

On our way in I paid the dollar for a cup of nectar to attract one to us…so it was no surprise to me when a so-brightly-colored-you’d-swear-it-was-fake lorikeet promptly fluttered down, landed on his shoulder and loudly declared, “Chirp-chirp-chirp-chirp-chrrrrrrrrrrrrrippp!rip-rip-rip-chrrrrrrrrip!chirp!!”

But for Captain Adventure…it was a huge surprise. Practically life altering. In his experience, birds don’t land on you. They fly away from you. They are tiny, terrified little creatures that flee before his mighty four-year-old bluster.

Not this little lorikeet dude. Counter to all known bird behavior, he not only approached our intrepid Captain, he landed on him and stuck there. When Captain Adventure shrugged to try and get him off, he only shifted his little feet to get a better grip on his jacket and peered amiably up into his face. When Captain Adventure tentatively brushed at him, he bobbed his head as if to say, “Oh yes, isn’t it a lovely rainy day? So! Got any nectar on ya? Two sips per head pat is the usual, mate…”

Captain Adventure turned to me, eyes wide, and said, “Mommy, git bird OFF’N me!”

I showed our feathery rainbow the cup of nectar in my hand. ‘Nuff said! He cheerfully jumped from my son to me and buried his head in the cup.

The boy’s eyes were round as saucers. Lion taming had nothing on this, let-me-tell-you. Mommy = Fearless! (Yeah, right…having been nipped more than a few times by sharp beaks in my day, I was far from fearless on this deal…but having survived more than a few nips, well, they rank as extremely aggravating but not life threatening in my book.)

It was one of the friendliest birds I’ve ever encountered. They had said they were “acclimated” to people, but this went beyond “acclimated”…I’ve known hand-fed-from-the-egg-on pet parakeets that were less pet-like than this little guy. (In fact, one of the worst nips I ever got was from a friend’s pet parakeet, right after she got done telling me she never nipped anyone.) (I should have known better. She also told me she had house trained the bird, and that she never just pooped randomly in her apartment. HAHAHAHAHAHA. Yeah. Bird droppings on every surface…) (…also? ew!…)

The colors were all the more fascinating because of the range. Electric blue head, bright green wings with some dull green at the tips, insolent little epaulettes of yellow at the shoulders, bright orange fading to dusty orange – and where the blue met the orange, brown.

Just like what happens if you squish orange and blue dyes together.


As I listened to Captain Adventure tell the story of the bird that landed ON MINE ARM over and over again on the way home, the colors kept coming up again and again. He had-him BWOO on him HEAD, an’ ELL-OW on him ARM, an’ OH-RANGE on him BEW-WEE, an’ GWEEN! On him ODDER ARM!

(By this time, he had utterly forgotten any apprehensive moments and insisted that he liked it when the bird landed on mine ARM!)

So Monday afternoon after I’d done a few other things yarn-wise, I sat down with pots of color, measuring implements, a few plain white coffee filters and a picture in my mind of my little lorikeet dude. A bunch of mixing, muttering, and getting dye all over my hands and jeans (again) (I swear, I get more dye on myself than on the yarn), I had the colors I wanted.

And then there was painting, sponging, patting, blotting, squinting, splotching, and more dye-getting-on-things-other-than-the-yarn.

My hands looked like I had some weird flesh-eating disease.

Because I am an idiot and never remember to wear gloves until I’ve already stained them, and then I think Eh, no matter, I’ll just scrub them good with Reduran when I’m done, and then I spend the next several days with funky-colored hands that these days make people recoil in horror and scream, “OH MY GAWD, SWINE FLU!!!!!” when they see them.

They also scream that if you sniffle. Which I do frequently right now because Hello, Allergy Season, back so soon? Because I didn’t have time to miss you one little bit!

The next day, I had three of these hanging on the line to dry:

Lorikeet yarn

They made all the other skeins look rather tame, even the hot pink ones. They’re so outrageous, they make me giggle – just like that crazy little bird and his friends.

I can’t wait to see how a pair of socks knits up out of this stuff.


(If it is illegal to have this much fun, please don’t tell me. I’ll need some defense if I end up in court. So also don’t tell me about how ignorance of the law is no excuse in the eyes of same, because then I will lack complete deniability, which is this phrase I heard somewhere that makes so little sense it must hold up in court.)


Bullwinkle said...

Leave it to a good animal story, with child, ending in fabulous yarn to get me to comment. (So fickle, I am.)

That fabulous yarn makes me smile. Be sure to show us how it turns into socks.

marit said...

Love the yarn! It is so bright and cheerful! What a great day the two of you had:-)

Moorecat said...

Can you please focus your camera on the Captain's face, then just before you click the shutter, tell him that these birds regularly fly through my back garden - for free!

Mind you, they haven't been "acclimated", so we don't go eyeball to eyeball much, more's the pity.

Steph B said...

Aw, what a great story! Wish we could've seen the Captain's face. My daughter would love that place.
Can't wait to see what you do with that yarn!

Science PhD Mom said...

Lories are so fun. They are just too restricted in diet to be easy pets. I'm sure your rainbow lori socks will be gorgeous--can't wait to see them!

Nicole said...

that sounds like an amazing day! and that yarn is phenomenal!
i love reading your blog, and i just wanted to say that there are times that i will be doing a million things at once (i just moved out on my own a month ago) and get overwhelmed and think What would Mother Chaos do?

froggiemeanie said...

Not illegal to have that much fun. You are gonna love those socks forever and ever and ever amen (can't wait to see 'em).

Allergies suck. Just in case your misery needs company as much as mine does.

Kere said...

I do not see any Laughing Lorikeet (or whatever you decide to name it) yarn in Etsy Shop.

I'm just sayin'.