July 5, 2006

Of Birds and Automobiles

Years ago, Wendy and I visited her parents in southeast Texas. It was my very first trip to her home state outside of layovers at the Dallas-Fort Worth airport. While there, the four of us set out on a road trip, spurred on by my burning desire to see the Alamo.

I am irrationally fascinated with historical places that earned their historical status because of war and death. Particularly death. I am warped that way. It's a dirty little secret. Don't tell anyone.

I made sure to read up on Texas history, particularly the Alamo and surrounding environs, before our journey. No way did I wish to appear ignorant of the state history. Her mother adores history. Must impress her mother. Must impress her mother with how wonderful I am. Must impress her mother to prove Wendy had landed herself a Worthy Woman. I think I succeeded, but who can really tell with in-laws?

We also visited a part of Texas referred to as the Hill Country. It lived up to its name: rural winding roads and glorious green rolling hills. We stopped for lunch in the quaint town of Fredericksburg. It was peach season. Lots of peaches are grown in and around the area. We scored some luscious juicy orbs. I do so adore sweet fresh peaches. So does Wendy's mother. Much bonding occurred while selecting fruit. She also turned me on to mayhaw jelly.

It was in Fredericksburg I saw a sight both fascinating and horrifying. I regret to this day not pulling out my camera and documenting it.

A Cadillac was parked at the curb by the sidewalk. As we strolled past it, something caught my eye. I turned to look again. I stared and blinked. I removed my shades, shook my head and stared some more. It was the back end of a bird. Well. It used to be a bird. But it was just a bird carcass at that point. The front half was imbedded deeply in the grill of the car. I'd never seen anything like it before and rather hope not to see anything like it again. But still. I wish I'd snapped a photo.

Fast forward to last week and a phone call with my mother.
"You won't believe this!" she said before I'd even said hello.

She entered her garage that morning and was greeted with what she described as a horrible stench. Seems a fews days prior she was out on the open road. A bird flew smack dab into the front of her Crown Vic ("Impossible to avoid it, Suzanne. I felt sooooo bad.") She had no idea what had become of that bird before the odor began. Then she opened the hood and discovered what was left of it lodged in the engine compartment.

She tripped on over to the local Ford dealer and a thoughtful grease monkey removed the carcass. No charge. She tipped him five bucks. I said to her, "A measley five bucks to remove a smelly dead bird carcass? I'da tipped him twenty." At least. Maybe even taken his picture and gotten his autograph for my scrapbook.

Shit like that doesn't happen in the city. Or the suburbs. At least not that I've ever heard. I've never seen a bird carcass imitate a grill ornament where I live. Are our birds smarter? More fleet and agile? More savvy to the dangers of Cadillacs and Crown Vics? Do they eschew close flyovers of the freeways and crowded urban roads, content to stay safely near their cozy suburban nests?

More importantly, why do thoughts such as these clutter my mind?



Elizabeth said...

I imagine you do adore sweet, fresh peaches.

I haven't had mayhaw jelly in many years. So many, in fact, I totally forgot about it. Max hasn't been to Fredricksburg but we're goin' on a Texas road trip in Sept. I guess now we have a quest.

Birds, owls, deer and 'dillers. Once you get out of the city, you don't know what you might hit. If you go far enough, you'll happen across a few roadrunners too. And...you'll still be in Texas.

Yee haw.

Anonymous said...

Funny you should mention dead stuff stuck in auto grilles. Today I went to lunch with a friend and as we walked toward her PT Cruiser, I heard her say, "Ewwwww!" There was a dead frog sticking out of the grille. All I saw was the feet, but I don't envy her the task of removing the thing later tonight.

Middle Girl said...

I have been seeing bird carcasses all over the place, lately. I don't know if they've been hit & strewn to the sidewalk, or attacked in air & fallen to the ground or attacked on the ground--They've all looked like they've been literally torn apart--I've seen them here in the 'burbs and in the city where I work--I don't know what the heck is going on and it's been bugging me for weeks now--total yuk factor--

Anonymous said...

I have smucked many a bird in the grill of my pickup while driving down the open road. Of course, I do live in podunk, Montana... and I adore it! Glad your mom was able to find someone to take care of her feathered ornament.

sporksforall said...

I'm not a birder, but I like birds and have a bunch of feeders in our back yard. I have a friend who has TONS of dead bird stories, which she likes to tell me. Usually over a meal.

These two piece tops hers. I've just got to think of when I can tell her about them for maximum effect.

Gunfighter said...

Confession: I samshed a goose with my Crown Vic just a few weeks ago. Flew right in front of me on Route 1, while I was doing about 60... Feathers everywhere.

I had some 'splainin to do when all of the boys at the station saw my bloody G-Ride.

I was stationed Texas when I was in the service (in my lost youth)... as a matter of fact, I did some training in the Hill Country around San Antonio. Pretty place. The first girl I ever fancied myself to be in love with is from there.

WenWhit said...

It seems to me the roadrunner population has been diminishing. That's a sad thing. Fredericksburg is very nice, eb. Lots of good shopping for Bluebonnet. And check out the local jerky. :)

WenWhit said...

Silly Suzanne - both of my parents love you.

weese said...

of course wendy's parents love you. we all do.
oh.. and shit like that never happens here in CT :)

Catherine said...

Plenty of road runners out here around El Paso. I saw one right outside the exercise room at the campus gym a few months ago, taking a dust bath.

Teresa said...

"Why do thoughts such as these clutter my mind?"

EB, I think she's angling for a post as EPA administrator.

tiff said...

weese - the only thing I ever hit in my 15 years in CT was a deer. They are the birds of the NE.

Suzanne - the dead thing smell? ewwwwww.....

Mind clutter is pretty! More more!

SassyFemme said...

Fredricksburg was one of our favorite places to take a drive to when we lived in San Antonio. In the 13 years I was there I never heard of a bird hitting a car like that though. Of course, watch, now that I wrote it, it'll happen here in CT! Ha!