The Bluebird of Hap— Wait. Never Mind.

The Bluebird of Hap— Wait. Never Mind.

Remember “Mr. Bluebird on my shoulder”?

“Somewhere over the rainbow, bluebirds fly”?

And there’s that Shirley Temple flick that runs short clips through my head when I hear someone say, “Bluebird of Happiness.”

My Grandma Lois had a bluebird, a solid cobalt blue glass figurine. (If you’re middle-aged, your grandmother probably had one, too.) That trinket fit just right in the palm of your hand, but you weren’t allowed to play with it. Her Bluebird of Happiness sat on the windowsill, so pretty when the sun shone through it.

The Bluebird of Happiness is what I thought I had outside my window the other day.

We have an ornamental red oak tree planted too close to the house. The previous owners landscaped like I cook—stuff may have seemed like a good idea at the time, but as things grew or boiled over, untoward stuff started to happen. Like lilies and tulips running amok and this tree growing up into the front gutters and brushing against the window.

For the last couple of years, a family of cardinals has nested in that tree, the mama brown with muted red tinges would tend to the nest while the daddy, all pompous and bright scarlet, kept guard with her.

Grandma would’ve liked watching that pair. The male’s colorings rivaled that of her scarlet glass ornaments that sat next to her bluebird. Once in a while, I wondered if Grandma wasn’t watching them with me.

This spring, I heard a racket from my cats, chittering and calling from their perches on my desk, their bodies contorted into stalking positions, no doubt wishing the glass and screens separating them from the great outdoors full of tasty snacks would disintegrate. I followed their gaze to the branches that wiggled with no wind. I figured my cardinals were back, though I was never in the right spot at the right time to catch a good glimpse.

I reminded all three cats of the turmoil their lives were in on the outside, that they’re all three inside kitties now, and that songbirds are protected by law.

Then, the other day, I was in the right spot at the right time and caught flicks of blue through the foliage. I got a little excited. I’d seen dainty bluebirds in the backyard and around the neighborhood this year—quite a few of them, actually.

Awe. Grandma’s smiling down on me. Changing things up a bit with a different feathery pair. And now there’ll be a family hatched and raised right here in the landscaping. Isn’t that nice… I felt a twinge of happiness as a wave of pleasant memories washed over.

Grandma loved her bluebirds—the real ones and the glass one. She even had special little wooden boxes around her property just for them. I’d get phone calls updating me on the happenings in the nest. The egg count, the hatchling conditions, the snake report, and when it was time to clean the box out and ready it for the next round.

And though this petite lady was well aware of the federal laws protecting all songbirds, she wasn’t afraid to retrieve her shotgun and blast the sparrows that dared to nest in her bluebird boxes. This image also brought a twinge of happiness, albeit of a more twisted variety.

I pulled back to the present day, the cats chittering out the screen as the breeze blew cat-hair dust bunnies all over my keyboard.

Then I saw it.

The crest. The black and white mask. Grandma, from beyond the veil, did not send that bird to bring about giddy feelings.

That’s a Jay.

I’m no ornithologist, but I wondered if maybe the cardinals did build a nest and this masked bandit pair decided, “Yeah, that’ll do,” and just took it over.

Grandma Lois (aside from “those blasted sparrows”) was an equal-opportunity bird lover. She owned a blue jay figurine or two, but they were not proudly displayed in the windowsill. They were crammed in the darker recesses of a bookshelf or the corner of a desk where they often missed out on the benefits of dusting day.

There’s a vast difference between happy little bluebirds and Jays.

“Let’s welcome the players to the field as our Brownsville Bears host the Harrisburg Bluebirds of Happiness.” Uh... we already know who’ll win that fight.

Now, a match against the Cardinals and the Jays? Okay, we’ll have to let that one play out. Against the Cardinals and the Bluebirds? Nope. Don’t need to watch.

Jays are used as sports team mascots for a reason. Quite the opposite of harbingers of happiness, Jays are aggressively intimidating.

But they get junk done.

I believe the male has figured out three predators are watching the goings on in the landscaping from behind the windows—joined by at least four stray cats that occasionally make their way into our yard (spay and neuter your critters, folks, spay and neuter, please). It would be enough to make anything with feathers a little on edge, but my boy Jay has issues that the cardinals never exhibited.

I caught him hovering at the window, pecking at the screen just the other day, and my cats weren’t even present. (I’d blamed the holes in the screen on the cats—now I think I owe them an apology.)

That Jay is in a fighting mood—combatting house cats, stray cats, and even himself—believing with his whole birdy heart that his reflection was another Jay infringing on his territory. He took off after a crow a few days ago that must’ve helped itself to more than its fair share of maple seed pods.

And the Jay’s taken to screaming like a hawk.

Haven’t seen the crow since.

Protect the nest. Secure the bloodline. Guard the sustenance. In his little birdy heart, he believes he’s getting junk done.

That’s what Little Miss Muse and I need to do today. Brush aside the sweet nostalgia. Meet life head-on—Jay style.

Get junk done.

I’m gonna close the curtains for a while. He’s perched on the branch closest to the house, staring at me—or at least at his reflection—and it’s unnerving.

Things in the current manuscript have started to grow and bubble over. Untoward events will overtake the planned plot if I and my merry band of office staff can’t perch our attention on something other than the drama on the other side of the window.

(I realize I may have too many “perches” in this office. The cats have a plush, pink tree —and they feel free to perch all over the desk and me. Zeppo has a perch from which he consumes his weight in Biscoff every other day. Trudi has a wooden perch with wheels so she can “fly” through the office, her caping billowing behind her. The Jiggle Dragons have spots to hang. The whole gang, just perching here, perching there. Interrupting and interjecting and, well. Such is the author’s abode.)

Little Miss lands on my shoulder—my least favorite perch of hers. She’s a chonky imp, and her tutu scratches my face and now I have lavender glitter on my cheeks.

“Smudges of happiness?” she offers, digging for some grander motivation that’ll get my fingers moving across the keys.  

I glare at her over the rim of my bifocals. “Not even close to the vibe I’ve got right now.”

“Okay, then. Put a hold on happy.” She squares her shoulders, lets her inner imp out, and whispers in my ear. “Pretend it’s war paint.”

She reaches under the desk for her stash of bottle rockets and aims it at the keyboard, flicking her lighter on and off an inch from the fuse, waiting on my go…

Trudi shuffles her wooden scooter to the corner.

Zeppo screws the cap back on his Biscoff Butter and scootches to the far edge of the bookcase.

The Jiggle Dragons brace themselves on the shelf above the keyboard. 

I poise my fingers over the keys and nod at Little Miss.

She screams like a hawk as the flame kisses the fuse. “Let’s get junk done!!!!!”

Love the Blog? Try These!

Compilations of 100 posts, complete with commentary from Little Miss Muse!