A roundhouse kick into spring

CommentaryMarch 29, 2013 

We all know March Madness refers to the NCAA basketball tourney. I think, however, it should refer to any snow storm after spring officially begins. Imagine the madness experienced after being treated to another seven inches of snow on Saturday.

My son was on his third consecutive hour of killing zombies in the TV room, my wife was clicking away on her laptop actually getting work done, while I was on the couch, listless and unshaven, trying to determine if shoveling the drive would lead to chiropractic care or full on hospitalization. Bored out of my ever-loving gourd would sum it up nicely.

Then it hit me. Nature, in its snowy and mysterious glory, was unfolding all around me outside. So, I took up station near the back door pretending to be Marlin Perkins narrating my own Mutual of Omaha nature show. It didn’t take long before I realized there are some very scary parallels to civilized human life out there in the untamed wild, or back yard, as it were.

Take the humble Cardinalis cardinalis, or common northern cardinal. A plump female landed under a shrub within just a few feet of me. It’s easy to determine gender as females are a dull brown hue versus the vibrant red of the male. Typically the female is also smaller and fatter. There are jokes there, but I’m going to rise above. Just seconds after the female landed, a large male cardinal flew in and perched. He landed in a triumphant flurry, making quite a show of it, with his bright red red plumage on display for all to see. I’m not fluent in cardinal, but I believe the male bird offered up a nonchalant, “s’up!” which the female cardinal totally ignored. For several seconds, there was this awkward, disjointed dance as the two birds, seemingly uninterested in one another, yet inextricably linked, walked in circles pecking at the snow while moving ever closer to one another. Without warning, and with no apparent forethought, the male red bird hopped in dangerously close and leaned in for a kiss. You know, nothing serious, just lights on, parents in the other room, innocent birdie first base.

Sensing the advance was coming, probably knowing what would happen before the male bird had formed the thought, the female red bird turned ninja and executed a spinning 360 degree roundhouse kick, wing whipping the surprised male at least three times before she flew off into some nearby trees. Dazed and confused, the male cardinal made eye contact with me, plumage sadly by his side, crestfallen. At first, he had the stunned, what just happened, thousand yard stare that all men get when a plan they put absolutely no thought into whatsoever somehow, shockingly, fails. Recovering quickly, the look turned into a head twisted avian version of “oh no she didn’t!” If the male bird was anatomically able, I swear he would have Z-snapped. Surprisingly unfazed, the red romeo shrugged and flew off giving chase in the general direction of the offending female.

Immediately I understood that this male was guided as if by some unseen hand. He was propelled onward, into certain emotional and physical trauma, by forces it couldn’t possibly understand regardless of how many talks he had with his father or films seen in health class. That magnificent, yet clueless, creature, today, and for the next few years, will fly headlong into one embarrassing encounter after another, and will be both powerless and unwilling to stop it.

Or what we humans call middle school.

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