That's right, getting back at nature.
Not having a pile of money at my disposal, I elected to spend my week off work at home, doing my yardwork, playing with the cats, cleaning the house, and barbecuing with my buddies.
Things went well until 5:30am Saturday.
Ethin woke me up at 5:30 in anticipation of his daily 6am feeding. Ugh. I got up, shook the cobwebs loose, walked to the bathroom, stepped in a hairball, put my contacts in, walked to the cupboard, and remembered I was supposed to buy cat food the previous night.
My little gray buddy was getting a tad impatient. Here it was, five minutes before din-dins time, and no food to be had. So, I had to run to Mac's to buy him a tin of the "cheap stuff". Off I went.
As some of you know, I live in West Kildonan. One of the most prominent (and spectacular) features of West K are its trees. Thousands of beautiful green trees, in the parks, in yards, and lining both sides of our streets. Thousands of trees also means thousands of those fuckin' cankerworms hanging down at sidewalk or street level - just enough to cover a pedestrian in webs and crawling worms...
By the time I reached Mac's, I was covered head-to-toe with the fuckin' things. They were in my hair, on (and in) my shirt, everywhere. I vowed to have another shower once I got home...
I grabbed the cat food, a newspaper, and a cup of coffee at Mac's, then psyched myself up for the walk home. I walked along the street instead of the sidewalk to minimize contact with the worms (it didn't help)... and once I reached my street, a whole new problem developed.
Something whizzed past my head.
I heard a loud "caw", then it whizzed past my head again, cawing as it went.
I looked around, and caught sight of a big black shape less than a foot from my head - then I felt it claw my shoulder.
It was the grandaddy of all crows.
This bird was HUGE! And it was out for blood!
My first instinct was to wait for it to attack again, and hit it when it got close... but it quickly dawned on me that the bird was probably trying to protect its nest.
I turned my back on the crow, and calmly (but cautiously) resumed walking the remaining half-block home. It buzzed me a couple more times, but nowhere near as close as it had before... confirming my suspicions about a nest.
I got home (dropping my coffee on the landing's carpet in the process), fed Ethin (who showed his displeasure by pooping on my bedroom carpet while I was out), and headed to the bathroom to grab that second shower (I was covered in cankerworms). The crow's attack left little more than a scratch on my shoulder, but I dabbed a little Polysporin on the wound, just in case. These things kill rats with their claws, y'know!
I thought briefly of suiting up and exacting swift and brutal revenge on the crow, but gave my head a shake and decided that avenging my wounded pride by taking out a mere bird would make me look pretty damned stupid... besides, it was probably protecting its young.
Anyhow, life marches on, and that yardwork ain't gonna do itself (as history has shown).
Out of respect for my neighbours (and certain noise bylaws), I grabbed my push-mower and sickle, so the sound of me doing my yardwork wouldn't wake everyone up. A nice gesture perhaps, but the Heavens have decreed that no good deed shall go unpunished... as I trimmed the tree-like dandelions at the side of my house (some were three feet tall!), I realized a bit too late that the alarm cable running to my garage had become unburied at some point over the winter...
The resulting cacophony woke the whole neighbourhood. Barely 6:30am, and I'm public enemy number one (which, incidentally, normally takes until noon!). After calling the monitoring company (and later explaining to two of Winnipeg's Finest what had transpired), I went back to my yardwork.
The yardwork went smoothly after that. I grabbed the garden hose to give the yard & patio a good rinse, only to have the spraygun self-destruct in my hand (soaking me in the process).
What a day! And it's only 7am at this point!
"That does it!" I yelled, and stormed off into the house to towel off. I made a mental note to head to Canadian Tire around 10am to buy a new spraygun... To kill a bit of time, I flipped on the shortwave radio. I figured it'd be deadsville (as daytime propagation is supposedly limited in this neck of the woods), but was able to pick up a few stations such as Radio Marti, Radio Havana, and China Radio International.
10am rolled around, and I hopped the bus to Garden City Shopping Center. Hit the Salvation Army Thrift store first, nearly got hit a couple of times in the parking lot (women driving while talking on their cellphones), and headed to Canadian Tire.
I swear, the place was absofuckinglutely packed with people - as though all of Winnipeg were there.
"Hmmph," I scoffed out loud, "They must have a sale on!", which got me the usual stares.
Now, I hate crowds with a passion unbridled by reason, so I tried to find the Home & Garden section as quickly as I could (they've remodeled & reorganized). I found what I was after, grabbed it, and made my way to the cashiers' area, hoping to beat the rest of the city there.
En route, I heard someone yell "Hey buddy!". I ignored it, thinking they were calling someone else.
"Hey, Schweini!" called the voice.
"Schweini" is the nickname of Bayern Munich's midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger, my favourite footballer, whose jersey I just happened to be wearing at the time... noting that the shout was meant for me, I stopped, turned around, and saw a man running toward me.
"Where did you get that jersey?" he asked.
"FC Bayern's website!" I lied proudly (actually bought it on eBay. I think it's a knock-off.).
"Are you a Bayern fan?" he asked.
"Oh yeah!", I said excitedly, "They're my favourite team!" (They are.)
"Mine too," he added.
Turns out, Jurgen started Winnipeg's Bayern Munich fan club, and they get together Saturday mornings for breakfast, and to watch the Bayern matches. He spoke excitedly of going to Bayern's training ground in Munich, meeting the players (including Schweinsteiger), and asked me if I ever planned to go to Munich. I told him "it's in the works", and he told me that since they're an official fan club, to let him know and they'd make the necessary arrangements to have me visit the training grounds in session! We exchanged numbers, and I'm gonna be joining the fan club.
As you can imagine, having a dream come that much closer to coming true does wonders for one's mood. It almost made me forget about the day's prior events.
Feeling sorta celebratory, I hopped the bus and headed home. The fuckin' crow was waiting for me - buzzed me a couple of times, but not as close as he had before... looking up to jeer at the bird, I noticed he had a gang of followers - a murder of at least six slightly smaller crows, all perched on or near the same tree, at the foot of which lay the body of a large grey squirrel - left as a warning to the rest of us. My suspicions, it seems, were confirmed... they're protecting their nest.
Which put further the kibosh on thoughts of revenge. I did have thoughts of staging a guerilla-theatre version of Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds, but it'd have to be a one-off, one-time only event.
Another thought crossed my mind with some amusement. Usually, there are several skaters who hang out at this particular streetcorner, who can usually be seen falling on their respective asses while trying out some stunt on their skateboards. I haven't seen them around for a couple of weeks... I wonder if the crows have scared them off? (Good crows!)
I also noticed how quiet it was in the neighbourhood. It's noon by this point, and usually by noon on Saturday, the children a few houses west of me are out playing in the street, with their shrill-voiced mother a short distance away.
Usually, the mother sends the kids out when she's doing her yardwork ("Okay kids, go play in traffic, and I'll call you when it's time to come home!"), but not yesterday. I thought, "Meh, they probably went away for the weekend."
I found out from my neighbour (aka the neighbourhood gossip) that these same crows have been attacking the neighbourhood kids throughout the week, and that Animal Services have been called a couple of times. Until then, the kids have to stay inside, or in their back yard.
Cool, this means I can grab my lounger and sit on my front lawn, drinking a beer and basking in the sun without having to listen to a bunch of screaming kids all day (and believe me, they do scream all day). So I dragged out the barbecue, threw on a few European weiners, grabbed my lounger, an ice-cold sixpack of Paulaner, and my shortwave radio, and basked in the sun until dinner.
And after dinner.
And all day today, until I head over to my parents' place for a Fathers' Day get-together.
Beer, sun, and peace & quiet. Does it get better than this?
Will I ever complain about the crows again? Quoth the raven, "Nevermore"*.
God bless you, murder of crows! Stay as long as you want!
*(CJ's note: Yes, as a matter of fact, I was waiting to use that line.)