Jon de Vos: A parable of a pooping parrot problem
September 4, 2008
One day, a farmer’s wife found a tiny seed. She held it in her hand and looked at it closely but she was unable to tell what kind of a plant it would grow up and become.
She set it aside where it lay neglected on the windowsill. The days grew warmer and one day she took the seed and placed it carefully in the warm soil of a hanging pot.
And then she waited, waited patiently, watering the tiny seed often, until one day, tiny leaves appeared. She tended it carefully, fed it nutrients, and kept bugs away from the growing shoots. But all the while it bothered her that she didn’t know what kind of a plant it was that she was nurturing. One morning she said to her husband, “I’m beside myself wondering what that little seed will bring. Is it a flower? Is it a weed? Perhaps, a vegetable or perchance a tree.” She thought often of her fabulous sprout, watching it grow taller by the day, and she marked its progress with a warm, inner happiness.
Her husband, the farmer, watched with growing alarm. His wife was fixated on this plant and talked about it daily, wondering aloud what sort of vegetable life she was caring for. Outside, flora in incredible profusion was blithely ignored in favor of the potted miracle. His concern grew daily, covertly watching as she bustled about caring for this fledgling beanstalk.
The farmer had a parrot that he kept in a cage next to the wife’s curious hanging garden where the mystery plant stretched its unnamed foliage towards the sun. The farmer occasionally opened the bird’s cage and allowed his parrot out to exercise. He enjoyed sitting, sometimes reading quietly while his inquisitive little feathered friend cavorted around the room.
One day, the farmer catnapped for a moment and when he opened his eyes, a terrible sight he beheld. While he had been dozing, his feathered companion had reduced the wife’s mysterious vegetation to a tiny green pile of shredded mulch.
“Woe is me,” the farmer cried. “What will my wife say?”
Well, I don’t know about the farmer’s wife but mine said, “Your stupid bird ate my plant? That’s it. I’m going to wring her scrawny neck, get outta my way or you’re going down right beside her.”
My wife and I have divided up the responsibility for the family pets. For instance, there is this female African Gray parrot we inherited several years ago from some friends.
We got her about four hours after their toddler ate a giant pile of bird poop off the floor.
The parrot has become quite fond of me and I reciprocate by buying her unsalted pistachios.
Once in a while, I’ll open her cage and let her roam indoors a bit and I’ll sometimes walk around the house, carrying her on my shoulder. My wife, for her part of the division, walks around with a chip on her shoulder and carries a murderous gleam in her eye. Ok. I’ll admit the bird shouldn’t have chewed up the hand-carved mahogany bar the wife’s ancestor’s brought back from the Philippines. Yes, I know all the window trim needs replacing, and I’m sorry you’ll never know what your plant was going to grow up to be, but that’s no excuse for language that would startle a muleskinner.
After all, you’re the one who forgot to remind me the bird was out.
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