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  Sunday December 21st, 2014    

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  (ARCHIVES)Back to Current
Lemons, pink flamingos and cures (12/28/2003)
By Janet Lewis Burns
As the so-called "golden years" become tarnished, things are viewed in a different light, and come in a larger size, since "auld lang syne."

Forever in blue jeans, babe! Conformed to my body, worn and faded, blue jeans become an overnight struggle. I discovered that one of the strongest things in the world is a woman's jeans zipper.

One might as well take advantage of the senior citizen perks, because you likely haven't fooled the waitress or the motel clerk anyway. I've been slapped aside the head more than ever this past year, with such jolting innuendoes as "the senior citizen's menu is on the back," or "we accept AARP cards, dear."

When life throws you a lemon - DUCK! I catch myself doing the "Parkinson's shuffle," as the reflection of the stranger in the store glass saunters stiffly along. "Don't worry - be happy," a clairvoyant voice whispers.

Do you realize how often you bend over in one day! I haven't got time for the pain. Besides Pat, my gripper stick has become my favorite helpmate. Better yet, I can poke, prod, and pinch my grandkids. I can grab up crumbs and tidbits of play they leave behind, and daydream about warmly-amusing moments, my stick at my side for their return.

Incidental knowledge hits me with its best shot. I've learned: one size does not fit all...pinching the peaches and cantaloupe can be delightfully stimulating...men expose their vulnerability when they take that medical advice from Bob Dole's TV message... "computer phobia" almost cost me one of the most timesaving devices of my bookkeeping career...finicky daughters have scanned my fridge, pointing out expiration dates. Times flies - stuff gets old.

Time is too precious to waste on Harlequin Romances and the National Enquirer. Now that sounds self-righteous! Okay. Anyway, "Flight Maps: Adventures With Nature In Modern America," by Jennifer Price, is one of the most intriguing books I read this past year. This is as exciting as I get!

I had hoped to share Price's research on the extinction of the passenger pigeon, and the exotic life of the pink plastic, retro, lawn enhancing flamingo, which can still be purchased for $7.95 a pair at K-Mart. The bird is the word!

During the 1950s, "The new working-class suburbs now regularly made room for both genres, as families set flamingos next to Madonnas in half-sunken bathtub shrines," she writes. In debates on lawn art, the gawky bird became identified as the "archetypal image" of bad taste.

Price did her homework, as the compelling stories indicate: "They say that when a flock of passenger pigeons flew across the countryside, the sky grew dark. The air rumbled and turned cold. Bird dung fell like hail. Horses stopped and trembled in their tracks, and chickens went in to roost." She tells of ornithologist Alexander Wilson's encounter with a pigeon flock along the Ohio River in the early 1800s:

"...after five hours, he estimated that it had been 240 miles long and numbered over two billion birds." Exploited for decades by commercial market hunters, only to land in pigeon pie, soup and feather pillows, for sport (pigeon hunts and trap shooting), Americans even took to the rooftops to knock the birds out of the sky with sticks. The last passenger pigeon died in 1914, in the Cincinnati Zoo.

Back to us humans, I've recently read that researchers have discovered the cause of Parkinson's Disease, and hope to have treatments to stop its devastating progression, and possibly prevent new cases, within a decade. Seems I've heard that song and dance before.

A Martina McBride song often gets snagged to my gray matter. "Tomorrow's another day - and I'm thirsty anyway - so bring on the rain." It takes both the sun and the rain to make a rainbow, I've learned.

Angel flying too close to the ground...a new moon will make music again on an awakening northern lake, and I will be there. Funny how time slips away.

A new year dawns...Don't worry - be happy. 

 

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