New England experienced some exquisite, exciting, and potentially perilous storms this week.
I expected them…because of the birds.
After an eye-opening day at Legoland with my daughter and the grandkids (a day much anticipated by the kids, rather dreaded by me – all expectations were met, ahem…), we returned to the bucolic suburbs outside of Boston. The sun shone like amber, interspersed with menacing dark clouds.
I thought I should call our local weather person – that would be my man. He’s the go-to guy in our family with any weather questions, forecasts, or concerns. First thing every morning he gives me a lengthy report about that day’s jet stream, convection, air mass, prevailing wind, atmospheric pressure, and so forth. I nod my head like it all makes sense to me, then look out the window and say, “ah, a cloudy day.”
As I carried my sleeping 2-year-old grandson from the car to his house (Legoland was an exhausting endeavor), huge hawks overhead squawked and squealed in surreal sounds I’d never heard before. Big black cumulous clouds gathered above us, and wind whipped the trees. Once I settled the sleeping babe inside, I ran back outside to call my weather guy and get the scoop.
“Nope, the forecast is that the thunder and hail will miss us,” he informed me. I could barely hear him because of the distressed bird cries.
“What’s that racket?” my guy asked over the phone.
“The birds disagree with your prognostication!” I shouted, but we were disconnected with the crack of lightening.
As I raced to the safety of indoors, I thought of Bert and Bessie, my sparrows. Well, the sparrows who are the heroes in the children’s book I’m writing, illustrated by the amazing artist, Shelly Steinle. My research found that even sparrows warn each other with great abandon when there’s danger in the air, or the ground.
Suddenly, the temperature dropped from almost 90 to 70 degrees as outside hanging baskets swirled in distemper, and birds sheltered themselves in the swaying leafy trees. Golf-sized hail landed on the ground and memories of winter slapped themselves to the forefront of my disbelieving brain.
Forget about checking your radio/TV/computer/favorite guy to find out if it’s safe to go outside.
Just listen to your local birds.