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Sunday in the Park

It’s that confusing time of year. Still winter, yet already my friend reports the first woodpecker at her house. Hard for me to know the real patterns of the birds in my yard this winter since I have been a neglectful bird feeder. Too cold to go out, too busy when it’s not cold, no bird seed in the garage when I’m finally ready. So last weekend, when the grandkids came up and I was prepared, we filled about half the feeders in the yard. The very next morning I was rewarded with song.

And I wondered, had the birds just been in some kind of holding pattern, waiting for me to fill up? Do they have supersonic radar that allows them to sense when the feeders are full? My friend says the mothers have been huddling in my yard wearing little babushkas and waiting for me to bring them nourishment. "Thank God," she exclaimed to me this week, "the children will finally be fed!"

Yes, she too, is a birder.

So I don’t really know if the songbirds have been here all along, waiting for a reason to sing, or if the birds of spring are early. Each year at this time, when my daughter gives me tulips for my birthday, I feel rather like Sylvia Plath and quote, "the tulips are too excitable, it is still winter here." And yet, we had a series of sunny, warm, spring-like days that were seductive. We washed our cars with reckless abandon. We left heavy jackets and mittens and hats in the closet and threw on the occasional street shoe instead of boot. Winter be damned, we said collectively for a few days, though we live in a resort and desert and know the critical need for snowfall in the next 30 days, at least.

My sweet neighbors threw a pizza party, just to see each other more than bundled up and unrecognizable in driveways shoveling snow. We wandered to a generous house in the cul de sac where six or seven families gathered and included everyone from a tiny two month old, Porter, to an old broad, me. I had one conversation about allowing boys to cry and another about no war is a good war before I took my leave. The young neighbors are kind to include me in their extended circle.

I finished a book this week that was perhaps incredibly deep but I found just weird. And it is rare that I finish a book and feel like I have wasted my precious time but I did with this one. Ugh!

Later in the week, my friends purchased the recently released DVD of the much-nominated film, "Babel." We decided to have a pizza night of our own and view the film before the Oscars on Sunday. My daughter had told me very little except it was depressing but then many films, like say, "Schindler’s List" are depressing and yet uplifting in the end. So we were ready. We thought so anyway.

The guy in the group put the DVD in the player and we watched a couple of previews just to feel like we were in a real theater and got ready for the feature. The film opens in a rocky land (we learn it is in Morocco later) with a goat farmer approaching a primitive stone house. The dialogue was in, well, I don’t know, Moroccan I guess. And we waited for subtitles but there were none. So, for the first 20 minutes we watched the film, these two Ph.D.s and I only understood the few lines of dialogue the American couple, Kate Blanchett and Brad Pitt have.

I suggested that perhaps not understanding the language but trying to glean the storyline anyway of the four separate stories in four separate languages was maybe why the film was called "Babel." I chalk that comment up to many years spent in AP English classes. It was about then the guy in the group took the remote control and pushed a button to discover the film had had subtitles all along. We felt foolish and so started the film over again, fast forwarding through the scenic parts. It didn’t really help.

I’m going to go out on a limb here, since this film may pick up a boatload of awards Sunday night, but what over-hype! I understand the underlying issues of gun control and immigration and am sympathetic to them both. Abandonment by death of a parent in your teenage years, got that one, too. Border control issues, check. Frustration with the government, sure. But someone needs to scream out this film is so damn slow it is painful. And there is no brilliant acting by anyone. Sorry. We’ll see how Hollywood feels about it but honestly, it felt like this is a screenplay project from an AP English class trying to connect four seemingly unrelated stories in multiple countries and trying to push current social issues.

But the high note here is that both my neighborhood party and my film viewing night, featured the same meal from the same new pizzeria. Have you discovered Atlantic Pizza yet? Right there next to Sushi Maru (also yummy) in the Albertsons plaza. (Is it still called the Holiday Village plaza? I just remember it as part of the bigger project that Rob Morris brilliantly created out of whole dirt nearly 30 years ago.) The pizza is made flipping fresh in front of you with toppings you pick. It is thin and the giant long slices can be folded over as serious East Coast pizza has always required.

So never mind that Mercury is in retrograde and everything feels like it is backwards or upside down or just unseasonably weird. It is snowing again, as we need it to do, the birds are singing right through the snowflakes and the tulips look downright lovely as they unfold in the living room on the mantle where the fire is burning bright. Ah February, whoever said April was the cruelest month, didn’t live in the mountains where we are somewhat disoriented this Sunday in the Park&


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