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Saturday, October 11, 2008

Hitchcock Part 2

When I was a child, I asked my grandmother how I could catch a bird. She told me if I dusted the animal's tail with salt it would be unable to fly away from me. I believed any and everything Granny told me, never realizing that she was just having fun with my naive mind. A few times, I stood outside our house on that quiet cul-de-sac with a pyramid of salt in the palm of my hand chasing after birds who were just minding their own business. They would look at me, hop a step or two and fly away, leaving the salt to be dashed against the ground. What was I doing wrong? I could never figure it out. It was only later that I realized that Granny was a trickster straight from the Anansi tales she used to read to me. I wonder if she stood by the window laughing at my attempts.

These weren't exotic or special creatures, regular black birds with yellow beaks that you can find in any city. Still, I wanted to possess them. Examine them and study what made them fly. Yes, fly is a good word. It describes what they do and what they are, fly. I wanted to learn the birds' secrets and in turn find out what made me so fascinated. I'm told that scientists believe birds are descendants of the dinosaurs, another childhood fascination.

I never salted a bird's tail, so I can't tell you for sure if it works or not. Recently, I told my girlfriend's nephew that if he sneaked up on a bird in the right way he could capture it and take it for a pet. I told him fanciful stores about all the birds I caught and brought home. He listened and dreamed as I spoke. I watched and laughed as he ran all around the National Mall chasing after pigeons and grackles. There was no salt around, so I only told him about the secret weapon as we left.

And speaking of my bird, she ran and flew as I chased. She doesn't know it, but I only caught her after I tossed a light dusting of salt into her hair.

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