From The Pataphysician
Artwork by Gail Bradshaw
Front Bird is the third in the "bird” pieces and is named for the single male hummingbird who uses the feeder at the front of the house, just outside my studio window.
For many years our small orchard was pollinated by local honey bees, giant black and yellow solitary bumble bees, and many small black mason bees, but the population dropped drastically and I began to pollinate by hand, using a variety of brushes, some for painting, some for mascara, even an old electric tooth brush one year.
At first I was often assisted by a pair of hummingbirds; it was a delight to stand in the fragrant warm blossoms, small paintbrush in my hand, with a pair of birds floating by my ears, the downdraft from their tiny wings gently fanning my neck.
Last year, for reasons known only to the birds, they refused to help.
I was left on my own, with a million blossoms to pollinate, so I took to using a pair of large lime green dusters, one in each hand, to try to speed up the process.
I was standing at the beautiful Jonathan apple, my back to the road, when one of the faithless birds landed at the top of the tree to sit and watch me at my labour.
As I worked, I admonished the bird for its lack of compassion, its laziness, and its failure to show any gratitude for the gallons of nectar I had provided all Winter.
The bird was unimpressed, and chittered away at me, preening and testing its long white tongue.
The longer it watched and chittered, the ruder my comments became:
”You useless feathered ingrate, what if I let you freeze next Winter, how would you like that?? Come on, get to work."
And so on.
I heard a gentle cough behind me, and turning, saw my neighbour at the roadside, a concerned look on her face, as she absorbed the odd scene, a man in overalls with two green dusters waving through his tree, mumbling and cursing at nothing she could discern.
She asked, quietly: “Who are you talking to?”
I answered: “Front bird."
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