By Karpagam “Jeeks” Rajagopal
I watch the avian life around the pond at work every day and I have decided that it's really a high-school class with wings.
The geese are the jocks - always daring each other to stupid stunts like bracing to land on the water and digging in with their heels to create maximum skid and backsplash in minimum space.
They are constantly eating and doing the follow-up bodily functions, strutting with that hip-swivel and radiating a "Wanna make something of it?" attitude.
The ducks are the regular kids - shy around everyone else but comfortable with each other, splashing their wings in each other's faces, diving to show off their underwater "holding my breath" duration to their brethren but mostly quiet and well-behaved - aspiring "Teacher's Pet" candidates.
The cattle egret is the loner Goth, his plume always groomed like a mohawk 'do' quietly pacing the edges, apparently harmless but playing his cards close to his chest. Taciturn and morose, he comes and goes at will, embracing his inner introvert with wings and beak.
The pelicans show up when the mood takes them, serenely confident in their size, fishing ability, beak capacity and wingspan. They are the bosses - too dignified to mingle, willing to grace the others with their aloof company. “Don’t envy me because I’m beautiful”, they seem to say coyly, knowing full well that they are the “in” crowd.
The gulls are the newcomersn- outsiders determined to make their mark, trying hard to look interested but really keeping an eye on the hierarchy in an effort to make a power play for top spot.
They look ready to play dirty if needed, their weapons carefully sheathed as they study all the angles with ulterior motive. Their beady eyes have that gleam of back alley shenanigans, and they look ready to say, “Wanna make something of it?”, and to take it out to the alley at the least provocation.
The ravens fix everyone else with a beady eye, content to flaunt their nerdy "intellectual superiority" card when needed, fully aware that this environment does not play to their strengths. They privately gag at the food choice the geese have made, much preferring to dumpster-dive for more calorific bounty. They would be the cafeteria lady’s nemesis.
And then there's the Cooper's hawk - terrorizing principal/hall monitor/crossing guard. He eyes them all with insolence, secure on his perch.
He watches them intently, occasionally swooping dangerously close to the noisy gaggle of geese, causing them all to harumph, settle their ruffled wings and look around in wide-eyed innocence as if to say "What? What'd we do, huh? We were just minding our own business."
All the other birds bustle about their own business - teachers, custodians and helpers. They don't have time for this flighty behavior, they say, even as they watch the fun. There's work to be done and somebody's got to do it.
EDITORIAL NOTE: You are a prolific bunch of writers and there is now a backlog of reader stories to carry us almost to summer. So for awhile, I am not accepting new stories until we work through some of the ones already on the list.