Friday, March 9, 2012

Clowns of the county


Either it's because my life has been riddled with the pursuit of laughter or that humor has sustained me throughout the madness of the world for decades—whatever it is, I'm very partial to magpies. They're just flat-out hilarious. Magpies are passerine birds of the crow family, Corvidae. Known as the European magpie, they are believed to be one of the most intelligent of all animals. They are one of the few animal species that can recognize themselves in a mirror.

They seem to be all over the country, as I saw them in all parts of the United States when I traveled around in my youth. As a young lad in upstate New York, I favored the magpies and crows, and spent many a day being enormously entertained by their antics and style. My favorite cartoon characters at that time were Heckle and Jeckle, two wily crows who graced the comic pages for years and then were featured in animated cartoons.

Up here in Idaho and the Wood River Valley, they're everywhere, wreaking havoc with their audacious fun as they play on through their lives oblivious of the trials of life. When I worked at the Sawtooth N.R.A. headquarters, I was able to watch them year-round, in all kinds of weather in numerous settings. I would take my breaks outside every day so that I could enjoy their madcap antics, so much so that my supervisor would often have to come outside to retrieve me: "Hey! You wanna' come back in, now?" "I got magpies here!" "I got work in here and a paycheck!" "Coming in now!"

Nowadays, I enjoy their activity as they play around my cabin area next to the longest-reigning yard sale in the valley. Their black and white and blue colors sparkle in the sun as they swoop and land all over the trees and snow-covered lawn. They clack all day and harass one another much like the urban gangs of the cities of the western part of the country. They bounce off the trees, singing songs, chatting wildly while causing laughter all over the neighborhood with their rambunctious style. I love those guys!

So, if you find yourself buried in a low state of mind, get outside, check out these whackos and enjoy nature's skit comedians. The cover is free and you don't have to buy a drink.

Nice talking to you.

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