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A Woman's Journal


The Big Black Bird

By Maggie Turner

Friday, March 17, 2000

The Big Black Bird


I was deceived by wishful thinking, my own wishful thinking. The sun was bright this morning and all the snow had melted away. The bare patches of earth in the front garden were soaking up the celestial rays of warmth. Coat in hand I headed out the door and stopped cold. Would it take longer to get the keys in the lock and get back into the house or to put my coat on and zip it up tight? I decided to don my coat and set off at a brisk pace for my walk. A half an hour later I was still walking and I still felt cold.

As I made my way down a busy city street, I spotted a large black bird behaving strangely high in a tree some distance ahead of me. It is not quite spring here, most of the trees are still dormant. The wind was strong enough to make the thin, naked branches shudder. I noticed as I approached the tree that the odd movements were very repetitive. Suddenly I realized that what I was observing was not a bird at all; it was a green garbage bag bloated and battered by the wind.

The trees were very well graced with plastic today. A little further down the street I noticed a tall and majestic elm tree. High above the sidewalk a large sheet of clear plastic had wrapped itself around several swaying branches of the tree. Like a ghost it hung in gray gauzy strips tattered at their edges. With the bright blue sky as a backdrop, it seemed incongruous swaying eerily in the wind.

Spring is just around the corner and soon the trees will bud. Leaves will burst forth and spread their glorious green across the sky. They will hide from view the ignominy of tattered and flapping plastic bags. Not until the bitter cold returns to bring forth the bright colors and the demise of the leaves, will we see the vestiges of human waste once more waving in the skies above us.

It is St. Patrick's Day today. Although I have some Irish ancestry, this holiday has not been one of any consequence in my life. In fact, I do not believe that I was aware that it existed until I started elementary school. As a child I enjoyed all the activities at the school and joined the celebrations with enthusiasm. By the time my senior year came along I had lost all interest. For me Valentine's Day, Mother's Day, Father's Day, and St. Patrick's Day are all special occasions devoid of emotional meaning. I wore a green shirt today. I was only thinking of the coming of spring and green leaves... really.


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