An extraordinary party-crash at a non-zoological ballroom
|Remember the visit we took to the zoo?
Oh, no. It wasn't a zoo at all. It was a sanctuary. The best kind, the feathery kind, and they showered us with kindness even though we crashed their party wearing jeans and t-shirts. Two cheerful Magpies greeted us by the broken window with sparkly tiaras to make the Corvids jealous.
And I do remember, the not-zoo sanctuary wasn't having a party at all. It was a ball. The best kind of ball, for it wasn't at all, for the ball held a vast ballroom where birds of every color and size flitted in pairs and in flocks to a cacophony of song. Others watched still, perched in with and among the wall flowers or near the lounging waterfowl in water falling floating and preening (so immodest) in the pool of coy koi where the snacks were set out the canapés so far below us in the trees’ canopy.
The Queen Woodstork Herself walked us from the glittery broken-glass window top entry we made through the trees into the grand ballroom. Holding onto the thickly grown vines, that I feared was old poison ivy but She Herself promised it wasn’t, we climbed over branches thicker than Buddha bellies and between nests where we apologized profusely to cranky juveniles who weren’t allowed to go dancing and were left waiting in the wings, some keeping their siblings from jumping on their nesting, others preening and flirting with their neighbors.
Her Majesty Herself left us where we were able to reach a platform about halfway down the side of the great ball of a ballroom. Her Majesty glided down among the flight of dancers with the grace and elegance of every dinosaur I’ve ever seen, and then some.
Crazed, frantically-sweet, unsoothing music was tossed about the ball on that beautiful indoors day. The music was enchanting, distracting, and all about the volume (not the bass). The hired bands, The Mockingbirds and The Brown Thrashers, played dueling banjo mimicry. (Of course, they also took requests, but I'd left my wallet in the car and I was too embarrassed to ask to hear my favorite.) I could have listened all day long, and we did, but the Meadowlark had an all-inclusive morning reservation at the Ritz. The Central Park Ritz, we must always forget, was overflowing with invisible birds disguised as Milkweed pods, dead leaves, and the occasional butterfly.
We were just out of time when we noticed the music change, for the birds were so many and yet so few! Their colors and feathers blew us into their world, where boat tailed grackles cackled and over pots boiling bubbles. Red winged blackbirds stood guard and called out names as new pairs entered the ball, and they flew through the canapés together wearing their best mating plumage. We were announced when we left our platform, and the red-wing stuttered only thrice before getting my name completely and unutterably wrong. I jumped the rope first, and you followed only a feather’s width later. Lacking all humility and fanfare, we hit the pavement running and kept on running. Laughing all the way, we held onto our tiaras so we wouldn’t get lost until we were home and safely tucked into our beds.
Written for "The Whatever Contest"