Sunday, April 16, 2006

Bird Flu

As I recall it was the summer of 2005 and concerns of a possible Bird Flu pandemic were all the rage. Top name celebrities were in the news day and night discussing the latest Bird Flu rumors and giving their opinions on pandemics in general. Even the Ministry of the Environment, a militantly non-celebrity infested institution, had got in on the act and released a press notice stating that all dead wild birds were to be preserved so they could be tested for the Bird Flu. A 1-800 number was set up and once called the Ministry would send somebody to pick up the dead bird. Sweet.

I was out front of my place enjoying a good book and a great coffee when the morning silence was broken by the thud of a Subaru smoking a low flying crow. The bird piled into my front lawn where it flopped around on the grass for a couple of seconds before it’s feathered soul bugged out for parts unknown and I was left with a defunct crow decorating the yard. My first thought was that, as a good Canadian, I ought to share the wealth by tossing the little beggar into the neighbours yard but it was only moments before I noticed that my neighbour was out in his own front yard and he was eyeing me and the crow suspiciously. I reverted seamlessly to plan B and gave the Ministry a call, reporting the dead bird and thus doing my bit for Bird Flu early detection (you could say I was killing two birds with one stone, but I wouldn’t.)

The young fellow I spoke to was as bilingually helpful as he could be, but as things stood an investigator wouldn’t be able to get out to my place for a week or so. Would it be possible, he wondered, for me to double wrap the little mutt in plastic and maybe store it in my freezer until and investigator could arrive? Once again, as a good Canadian, I consider it my duty to lie to government officials, no matter how low rank, as often as possible so I agreed that this was a sound plan and wished the young fellow a good day. I then stuffed the corpse into a couple of garbage bags, but rather than taking up valuable freezer space I tossed the bird filled bags next to a retaining wall we have that has a nice southern exposure and all the sun you could want. One of the many nice things about living here is the virtual certainty of 35 – 40 degree Celsius weather we tend to have every day in July. I figured this would broil up the bird in no time.

A week later as I was soaking up the afternoon sun as well as a tall ginger ale a small white truck pulled into the yard. It had a Ministry of the Environment crest on it’s door and a hot little blond behind the wheel. She became even hotter as she stepped from the vehicle displaying a nicely filled MotE pair of shorts and an equally nicely filled MotE tank-top over which she was wearing a white nylon windbreaker with the logo of the Bird Flu Crü (the unofficial name of the Bird Flu Pandemic Investigation Squad) which had the name divided into rockers above and below a drawing of a dodo bird with an ice pack on it’s head and a thermometer in it’s mouth.

I tugged my fingers through my hair, giving it that rugged look that the chicks go for as she sashayed over to where I was standing. “You’re the buddy that reported a dead bird?” she asked. “I am that,” I replied. She nodded thoughtfully, the sunlight glinting off her hot pink aviator shades. “Could I see the bird in question?” she asked. “Sure,” I replied wittily before trotting off to get my rapidly dissolving crow. I handed her the bag hanging from the end of a busted shovel handle. She looked puzzled as she took it, finally asking, “Is your freezer working?” “Sure,” I said, and she shrugged and then gently tote the bag open.
Apparently that crow was in some sort of condition because once she got a look, and a smell, inside that bag she hurled like there was no tomorrow. It was pretty nasty but I figured she probably felt a lot better once all that was out of her. I did feel kind of mean when I told her she couldn’t go into the house to clean up but as a practical matter I usually don’t want puke crusted chicks wandering through my home (actually this is more a guideline rather than a hard and fast rule, but even guidelines should be followed sometimes.) I did get to hose her down on the front lawn though and that was kind of cool. It’s like my fellow traveler H. Rollins says, you’ve got to grab your kicks whenever you can because you never know when something like, say, the Bird Flu is going to come along and mess things up.


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