Friday, October 05, 2007


Nature -- For us, and for our birds

I’ve been taking the train to work instead of driving, which frees me up to catch up on all the books I’ve neglected since I’ve left college. Currently I am reading Al Gore’s “Earth in the Balance” – which I know as been out for years, but I got it for $2 in a bargain bin a couple months ago – and regardless of people’s feelings on the issue he writes on, he talks about one thing I believe all of us can relate to. Reconnecting with nature, be it either us, or our birds.

Al Gore says that our industrial-fueled lives, “[...] distracts us from the pain of what we have lost: a direct experience of our connection to the vividness, vibrancy, and aliveness of the natural world.” (220) I live in Los Angeles, which by all accounts, is the industrial city of entertainment, and it does distract me from the fact that there is really no nature around me. As you leave Los Angeles, and head toward Irvine (where BIRD TALK headquarters is), you enter farmland and parks, and the general quietness of nature. As much as it can be called nature, since we are miles from national parks and forests. (They’re all in Northern California, sadly.) The difference, though, is startling. I often put down my book just so I can watch nature pass by me, entranced by a world I so rarely see. This morning, I saw a hawk sitting on a fence, feathers fluffed up and enjoying the morning as well. It was nice.

Gore’s words made me think of my birds as well, and made me wonder if they too have lost their connection to nature. To not start any debate that we took them from nature (which we did), I’ll examine their lives. My birds live in large cages with plenty of toys, food, and water. I am their flock mate, and they start and end the day with me, chattering up a storm, playing and eating. They’re living the perfect suburban life with me, and seem quite content, if all the tail-wagging and excited chirps are anything to go by. A perfect distraction, if you will.

I had to go up into the Hollywood Hills a couple weeks ago, and I took my lovebird River with me. River is quite a chatter and very inquisitive, exploring everything she can. When I parked where I was supposed to be, I had to wait around for about twenty minutes, so River and I waited outside amongst the trees and silence, save for the passing car. There was a nice wind leftover from the rain the night before, and it ruffled River’s feathers as she waited with me. There, a dramatic scene took place. River quieted down for a while, most likely unsure of what was going on around her. It’s possible this was the first time she had heard and felt wind blowing through the trees, reconnecting her with a world she wasn’t really apart of. Finally, after she got used to it, she started chirping again, and watched everything going on around her contently.

Al Gore’s book calls upon us to find that connection again with nature. I’m slowly working on it, and bringing my birds with me on the journey as well. I hope all of us can do this, not just for us, but for our avian friends.

-- Jessica

Works Cited: Gore, Al. Earth in the Balance. Houghton Mifflin Company, New York, 1992.

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