Now occasionally I stop to smell the roses, or watch the birds.
I see Filipinos watching the birds, too. Often it is through the sights of a rifle aimed at putting some meat on the rice.
Did you ever watch those jungle movies on the big screen? You'd hear birds hooting and whooping and cawing from somewhere over there. And back there. And up there.
Most of those sound tracks, I am convinced, were taken from my back yard.
One of the birds hidden in the upper reaches of bamboo sounds like a deep throated war whoop. "Whop whoop whoop whoop!" It is usually answered by a whoop from trees in the distance, the female, I suppose, telling her suitor to get lost. Or to get his sexy plumage over here.
One really irritating bird screams incessantly in the morning "fire in the boat", "fire in the boat". I want to grab my own rifle but am constrained by the thought that I would be wasting bullets needed to fend off other animals with two legs. The Philippines is, after all, gunslinger territory. I know this first hand. I was confronted by a drunk with a pistol a couple of months ago. He wanted to show me his macho courage by taunting me and shooting into the dirt in front of him.
I smiled and walked away. Irrelevant people have a way of disappearing from my life. Then I went and connived a gun from my father-in-law.
I saw an emerald dove skitting about the underbrush in my backyard the other day. Plump and green as jade. Some bright yellow orioles, about the size of a pigeon, dive across the yard to snatch berries from this scruffy tree I'd prefer to cut down. Except I like the yellow birds. They are like dive-bombing canaries on steroids.
There are big birds and little birds and long-tailed crazy birds that play with their image in the mirror on my car. They shit all over the car. They also dance and tap at the house windows. But fortunately, it is a daytime activity, because at night it would be downright creepy. I've grown rather fond of the crazy pests. And they are growing less skittish about having an American about laughing at their antics.
My neighbors are demonstrating a similar acceptance.
Little swallow-like birds build nests in the upper reaches of my garage, diving in and out like bats. They rake the air in the evening hours, cleaning the place of bugs. God has His hierarchy, eh? I wonder where we humans stand?
I rather think somewhere beneath cockroaches and rats.
Here is a wonderful bird watcher's site on Philippine birds: Birdwatch