I didn’t start this competition, but now I’m fully committed. Timing is everything and my opponents are very astute, knowing intuitively when to take advantage of me. I never feel very active early in the morning and they are. My best time, when I can hold the upper hand, is at the end of a hot, sunny day. I’ve learned that’s when I get the best results.
When I’m playing my part, my opponents become obnoxious and very unsportsmanlike. They stand back and ridicule me with their nattering and sometimes outright cries of annoyance when I seem to be gaining the upper hand. I delight in knowing that I’m annoying them. Goodness knows they annoy me, yet I never say anything, except under my breath. What’s the point. They don’t listen.
The object of our competition is the ripened berries on the Saskatoon bush in our back yard. Last year there were none, but this year the bush opened the spring with blossoms on every branch and those are now becoming mature Saskatoons.
My competitors are the neighbourhood birds. I know it is them because of all the remnants of their activity. Purple stains on the deck, on the backs of our deck chairs, and some flying ‘bombs’ on the sides of our deck. Thoughtless guests, those critters.
When I approach for my evening picking, the bush explodes with my escaping competitors. There are many: robins, cedar waxwings, sparrows, goldfinches, and this year we actually have doves. The fledgling doves seem to delight in eating the berries When the birds flee from the bush they don’t go far. They sit on nearby branches and building roofs and yak at me, each in their own way. Even the young doves let me know what they think with a stepped up ‘cooing’. How ridiculous they sound.
I search the bush for the prime fruit of the day. At this stage of the summer the berries mature quickly and every day presents a new batch of tasty morsels. They make my dessert extra good when added to a good dollop of vanilla ice cream. I’m sure it is adding to my waistline, but I don’t care. Besides, it will only go on for a couple of weeks.
My competitors clearly aren’t as particular as I am. They peck away at the berries regardless of how ripe they are. That is why I often see the mature colour of purple on a beauty from below, but when I pick the fruit the top has a chunk excavated out of it and the berry has started to fester. I wish they would just eat the whole thing, but they take a sample and then move on to destroy another berry. Too much trouble, I guess. The lazy sods.
Everyday it is the same. Can I get out there and grab my fair share before our neighbourhood winged villains destroy my crop for the day? I don’t think either of us is winning this competition right now. It seems to be a tie, in that we are both getting our fair share. Of course, I would like to have all the fruit to myself, but I acknowledge that my opponents in this contest add to the ambiance of our place with their colour and song. So, it’s not all bad—not in the least.
PS. “Saskatoon pie, I mean, it’s an ethnic dish. Absolutely. I'm a Saskatchewan boy.”
Hummer Bartlett, B-Say-Tah, Saskatchewan