It looks so small and innocent, right? Well, I am here to tell you this cute little towhee is like something out of Alfred Hitchcock/Edgar Allan Poe. The drama began about a week after we got our house repainted and I replaced the battered brass scuff-plate at the bottom of our door with a shiny new one.
I was up on the third floor writing when I heard a tap, tap, tapping at my front door. I figured it was the printer and forgot about it, but a few hours later I realized it was still going on –and I wasn’t printing anything. I slowly walked down the stairs and got a decidedly creepy feeling – was somebody in the house?? I looked out the front door and nobody was there, yet the tapping went on. Then I looked down – and right there on the welcome mat, this small but insanely determined towhee was madly attacking its own reflection in the door.
I yanked open the door and scared it away – but twenty minutes later, it was back at it. After about six hours of this cat-and-bird game, I chased my fine-feathered friend into a tree and threw a shoe at it (PETA pals, please don’t judge) but in twenty minutes it was back tap, tap, tapping. I have a renewed respect for The Raven now – all that tapping, gently rapping stuff does make you feel unhinged. Finally, I simply covered the plate with a long strip of taped-together papers but that looked so ghetto my husband tore it off a few days later… and then, driven nuts himself by the incessant tapping, had to come up with his own brilliant solution (wax paper!) which is only slightly less raggedy-looking.
Of course, when I decided to write this story I needed a photo – but the bird proved uncannily elusive. My husband’s fury at the bird morphed into grudging respect as he waited for hours for the bird to show up – but the instant he tried to take its photo (even through the window), it would scamper under the plants or fly off. Brangelina could really learn a few anti-paparazzi tricks from this old bird!
As much as it enraged me, my indefatigable towhee has become a kind of metaphor for this summer. For one thing, its signature call is a great Southern tradition, sounding uncannily like “Drink your teeeeeeeea,” which I know because I come from a family of die-hard birdwatchers. My birdie also never gives up, no matter how futile the task – which is good counsel for my summertime pastimes of finding an apartment for Lulu in Queens in two days (check!), jumping around in trees ziplining with my sister and her girls (check!), remembering to tweet (check!) , and trying to figure out a way to keep What Gives giving … and that pretty much entails tapping on doors until (hopefully) they finally open.
Wish me luck on that … and Happy Summer, y’all!
(And here’s a little slice of dessert from Edgar Allan Poe’s The Raven)
Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore,
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
`’Tis some visitor,’ I muttered, `tapping at my chamber door –
Only this, and nothing more.’