Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Vulture Club

Recently eaten: paella
Recent annoyance: that weird alarm that goes off behind the wall of my bedroom periodically...not sure if I should be worried

My stomach bombed faster than Michael Richards at the Laugh Factory (oh, haha, I am so timely) when I saw this picture and article. This is probably why I can't get any cell phone reception in my basement apartment, and I just know that buzzards are stealing my deer carcasses out of the fridge. Beautiful, indeed!

Buzzards take over cell phone tower
Barb and I go for a walk with our three dogs every morning before sunrise. As we leave our driveway in the gray light and head toward the end of our street, our view is dominated by an enormous cell-phone tower.

I hated the thing when it was erected a few years ago, because it destroyed my illusion of rural seclusion. It’s at least three hundred feet high. I mean, it must be. It’s huge. It could be the base of a space elevator. It’s as stark and metallic as Gort the Robot in The Day the Earth Stood Still. Only a lot bigger. It wounds my blue sky and casts a shadow over my green yard.

Yet it serves a purpose, and I know it has to be somewhere. We postmodern humans, we gots to have us our cell phones.

Soon after the tower’s appearance, however, I was reminded that other residents of the world will find their own uses for man’s devices.

You see, our cell-phone tower is now the permanent nighttime home of over a hundred black-headed buzzards. Big, ugly buzzards. The kind you see playing tug-of-war with whole deer carcasses.

Every morning when Barb and I begin our walk, there they are . . . just waking up, clacking their talons on the reverberant steel and stretching their great dark wings as they prepare to leap away and soar in search of the dead.

Once, I counted a hundred and twenty of them before I decided I didn’t want to know how many there were. Sometimes the tower is black-feathered from top to bottom. Other days, there aren’t so many. But I can’t recall a morning when there were none. And those who are there always watch us as we walk by.

This must be a metaphor for something.

Barb and I always glance at each other and say the same thing:

“Look alive,” we say.

Thirty minutes later, when we return, the buzzards are leaving for their daily rounds.

They’re beautiful when they fly.


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