Blue Jays in late February
Walking home from school with Mr. Spit, Pounce hears them squawking in the evergreens outside the pavilion in Hickory Park. “Blue jays,” she says to him. “They’re more active again now that the days are getting longer.” “Cool,” says Spit. “Not that I’m a big bird guy, but they’re my favorites.” No surprise, thought Pounce, considering the spiky hairdo and matching attitude.
Getting ready to shelve Imari’s section in trade for all that party baklava, Iowa wrestles a stack of bird guides onto the book truck. Suki, probably—almost time to break out her telephoto lens for the season. For a photographer, Suki has an oddly hard time identifying the basic birds. Outside in the courtyard, the resident blue jays were creaking and croaking in the old yews. It was so good to have them back, the familiar blue jays of her childhood. About ten years ago the West Nile virus had passed through Northern Indiana and killed almost all of them and it was years before they started to come back. Now Kekionga was full of them again, and the kids coming up now would never know a town without blue jays going “kee-oww, kee-ow” in the bushes. Shelley’s grandfather called that sound the “rusty pump” and told an old story about how blue jays only make that sound when they feel safe, so hearing it when you are running from danger means you are safe too. And that’s cool. Everyone should feel in safe in the Library.
Stalking through the tall dead grass around the parking lot of the Junkyard, Josef jumps a mile when an acorn bounces off his head, right between his ears. “Vink!” he vinks at the feather thing in the acorn tree, one of the striped-blue-feather feather things with the pointy bits on their heads. It made a rude kee-hack back at him. “Don’t bother,” says Bud, watching from the doorway of the office shack. “Even you can’t argue with a blue jay.”
(I plan to illustrate this with a photograph of a blue jay, which will represents Suki’s successful photograph. Eventually. Good luck with that.)