A miracle or bird poo?

Our bank balance is rarely endangered when I walk past a shoe or clothing store. I am a terrible excuse for a fashion diva.

Our bank balance is rarely endangered when I walk past a shoe or clothing store. I am a terrible excuse for a fashion diva.

I’m afraid my personal weaknesses run to far seedier things; herbs, flowers and vegetables to be precise.

By June my plant and seed buying binge has usually scraped the living daylights out of our poor credit card while visions of home grown vegetables, fruit and flowers dance in my winter weary head.

Edgar A. Guest once wrote “Now seeds are just dimes to the man in the store, and the dimes are the things that he needs. And I’ve been to buy them in seasons before, but have thought of them merely as seeds; but it flashed through my mind as I took them this time, ‘You purchased a miracle here for a dime’.”

In today’s economy it really would be a miracle if you could purchase a packet of seeds for a dime.

But of course, few would argue that seeds do not encase a miracle inside. Who wouldn’t want an opportunity to grow a miracle or two? I have great empathy for young Jack trading an entire cow for a handful of beans.

I do save on sunflower seed by simply planting a handful of bird seed into pots every spring. Not only do they produce colourful flowers in my garden, but they help reduce next winter’s bird seed bill by growing some seeds of my own.

It creates an interesting circle of economy when you pause to think about it. I have often thought that I could take it one step further by repackaging the 25 kg sack of seed a teaspoon at a time into colourful little packets enabling me to make enough of profit to pay for all my garden seeds.

This afternoon I would have made a lousy sunflower seed salesperson. Now that things are finally warming up I had no more excuses to look the other way at our white-washed deck. The white wash being predominately chickadee, grosbeak and common red poll poop.

As I took up my weapons — a bucket of vinegar water, a sponge and rubber gloves — and set about the grim task of scrubbing bird leavings off the deck and railings I had to admit it was something of a miracle that a few sunflower seeds passed through the gullet of such tiny birds could produce such an incredible amount of crap.

I described the task in colourful detail to a friend who had the misfortune to show up just I was finishing the gruesome task.

I explained that a seed erupting out of a bird’s gullet does not produce the same sort of a miracle as a seed erupting out of the dirt.

She disagreed.

“Have you never heard of the Tambalacoque tree?”

“No I haven’t! Do they produce fruit? What zone do they grow in? Where can I get one — or three?” I countered with enough excitement to set my credit card atremble.

“You can’t buy it, the tree is practically extinct.”

“Well then why did you bring it up?” I asked, annoyed.

“Dodo birds,” she said.

“You don’t need to resort to name calling.”

“No, there’s a theory that dodo birds were what kept the tree alive. The seeds passed through their gullet and in so doing launched the process necessary for successful germination. When the dodo birds died, that was almost the end of the trees as well.”

“What happened?’

“They started force feeding the seeds to wild turkeys instead.”

I suppose that does constitute a sort of bird poop related seed miracle, but since sunflower seeds do not need to journey through a dodo bird, wild turkey or even a black capped chickadee in order to germinate, it didn’t really boost my excitement over scraping deck railings and feeders.

Still, there will be the sunflower surprises that show up in odd places around the yard where they have been dropped by the winter feeders and I will let them grow there, even when they look out of place, giving thanks to the feathered friends who put them there. I guess that’s a miracle enough for anyone.

Shannon McKinnon is a humour columnist from the Peace River country. You can read more of her writing online at www.shannonmckinnon.com

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