Friday, August 31, 2012

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During the past two weeks, my husband and I have experienced a growing confusion over a certain state of affairs in our flower garden. It started with the rustling of branches and ended with our pug going completely ape shit on a certain bush every time we were outside.

Upon further examination one morning, I scared the little critter out of the garden and it went screaming into my neighbor’s yard. It looked like a little skinny chicken.

I approached my husband that night and said “Have you noticed a weird animal around here?” and he immediately replied “That little chicken looking thing?”

Okay. Step two. Google images. We ruled out chickens, quails and peacocks.

Yesterday I got a better look at its feathers and we did some more poking around on Google. We made a species diagnosis: The thing was officially a pheasant.

The next phase of our Google research included search criteria like this...

“How did a pheasant come to live in our garden?”

“Random pheasants roosting in random gardens”

“Why would a pheasant move to my house?”

…and turned up very little by way of explanation.

Over a bottle of wine, we tried to solve the mystery. Yes, our little city yard has always been a menagerie. Our neighbor’s chickens, cats, dogs, bats, skunks, foxes and whatever else lurks. But this was perplexing, made even moreso by a healthy buzz.

Finally, after a sleepless night that turned up no answers and a 3 a.m. chat during which it was suggested that maybe one of the neighbor’s chicken eggs experienced a haunting fertilization resulting a in a phantom bird – and a spiritual suggestion that it was God’s way of directing us to the Pheasant Lane Mall – we decided to ask the neighbors if they had any leads.

Mr. Neighbor burst out laughing.

Just so happens that some folks across the street raise pheasants and their college-aged daughter was to “pheasant-sit” while they were away one weekend.

Our little garden dweller, as it turns out, is an escapee. Mystery solved, and no shopping trip for me.

But the moral of this story is not to be overlooked.

In the age of Facebook and Google and Twitter and all these avenues that bring the information superhighway barreling through your world and allow for you to socially connect every second of the day, perhaps it’s time to simply chat with your neighbors. Like, 80s style. 1780s, that is.

Not only can they answer your pressing questions about unexplainable critters, but they can also bake you muffins and invite you over for beers. It inspired me to call my friends, have them over for coffee. To know that if I extend my hand; someone will grab ahold.

I might be a little biased right now, coming from a summer of being mostly unplugged. I am sure I missed out on parties and gossip and what is going on with everyone. I also missed out on all the {{{{hugs}}}} and comments and "likes" when I was sick with a virus for 3+ weeks, I had to heal solely on the love of real-life friends who called to check on me and were genuinely disappointed along with me each day to learn that I hadn't recovered.
I saved my stories to tell when I saw people face to face, instead of relying on what has become a too-common conversation starter…”You saw my post, right?” or “Check my wall!” I now get to run into old friends at the supermarket and exclaim, earnestly, I can’t believe how much you have grown! to their children. I have missed all of their pictures, their funny kid-isms, their achievements. They now get to tell me in person and it is slightly thrilling, I think, for both of us.
But I caught the big stuff. I spent more quality time this summer with friends and family than I ever have before, I drank my kids in like water and showed them the world. When I was lonely – and I did get lonely with all that quiet – I reached out. I tried to mend fences and grow distant relationships, and sometimes this worked, more often it did not. I had time to think about this without distraction and input and I became okay with it because I had to.
I sat on shorelines, perched poolside and bathed in sunlight with some really, really incredible women and I drank them in too. I hiked up mountains with busloads of kids, registering their giggles from the backseat and letting it sustain me. I let life wash over me and I never once gave it to the internet; selfish but satiated, I kept it all for myself.
Some part of me feels compelled to share it with you now, so clearly that mindset was as temporary as my state of unpluggedness. But I would never have known that joy if I hadn’t stepped away, and I definitely would not have even noticed the demented-looking little chicken thing that someone across the street was looking for.
Technology served its purpose in helping me identify the bird, so it could help me with the “what” portion of my confusion. But it couldn’t tell me “why” – and the only antidote to that was a friendly chat across a fence, a shared laugh and a resolution to do a little more neighborly sharing of information.
Maybe unplugging is the best way to become fully charged, and like the pheasant, sometimes you have to lose your way a bit to truly find your way home.


  1. So great. The Curvies missed you just the same.

  2. Love your story and writing. Thank you for sharing!