Perusing Personification

by Deana Coddaire
Daily Prompt: Dominant

Funny how you really don’t notice how ingrained certain habits are until someone brings it to your attention–and sometimes, when it happens, you realize said habit is a bit…odd. In my case, the habit in question is my tendency to personify pretty much everything and anything around me that I happen to be observing with another person. Anyone that knows me is used to this phenomenon, and for the most part, they play along because they get me. Fortunately, my kids have inherited–or learned–this strange tendency as well, so we have these “conversations” on a daily basis…usually many times a day, truth be told.

Here is an example. Since moving to Maine, we have all become amateur bird-watchers; my husband put up two bird feeders in the yard, and my son gave me one of those clear, acrylic ones that stick to the window, for up-close-and-personal observation opportunities. I have the Audubon app on my phone, and pride myself in my ability to identify every bird that visits our little birdie buffet on a daily basis.

I have also come to realize the hierarchy in the world of our feathered feasters–at least in terms of their “personalities.” There are the shy and meek visitors, and, as in any society, there are the obnoxious bullies. The most dominant of the latter are the bluejays–they travel in loud, jeering packs, and barge their way into the polite little gatherings of chickadees, tufted titmice, dark-eyed juncos, white-breasted nuthatches, and the occasional bluebird (now I’m just showing off). Even the cardinals wait their turn, despite the fact that they are virtually the same size as the bluejay.

The other day, as my daughter and I were eating breakfast and watching the happy little birbs (as we refer to the above-mentioned meek crowd) flutter in and out of the window feeder, a bluejay blasted his way through the diminutive flock, sending them all flying to nearby trees, where they waited for the encroacher to eat his fill. Below is an excerpt of the “dialogue” we created for the drama unfolding on the other side of the glass:

Chickadee 1: “Oh, I’m sorry, is this your food?”

Chickadee 2: “No, no, my friend. I’m pretty sure it’s here for all of us. Those huge, wingless creatures that nest on the other side of that magic wall put it here.”

Chickadee 1: “Ah, yes–I see! Ooooooh, dear!!” (starts to fly away as I edge closer to the window) “Fly! Fly away!”

Chickadee 2: “Easy, there–all is well! No harm will come to you. We are perfectly sa-” (The tiny bird is interrupted mid-sentence as the bluejay makes his explosive appearance.)

Bluejay: “That’s right, you scrawny little scraps of raptor-feed. Outta the way!” (The chickadees scatter as he begins to devour the birdseed. His large, stupid head jerks left and right, up and down in between pecks.) “Jeez, why is this thing so small? A guy can barely turn around on–.” (I flap my hand close to the glass.) “–AHHHHHHHHH!” (The bluejay streaks away from the window, to the top of a nearby maple. Chickadees 1 and 2 return immediately to the feeder.)

Chickadee 1: “You see friend? We need not fear the featherless creatures from within the giant nest.”

Chickadee 2: (Chortling with glee as he delicately breaks open a single sunflower seed) “Yeah–but HE should.” (He tips his beak toward the blushing bluejay, and then raises his voice, to be sure his comment reaches its mark.) “Bluejay, my tailfeathers! Looks more like a chicken, to me!”

You get the picture. Animals are the most frequent recipients of my creative conceptualizations, but pretty much anything that moves is a target: a couple of dead oak leaves dangling from the same branch, twisting precariously in the breeze; a few sticks tossed into a running stream; an apple rolling down the over-filled display and falling to the floor at the grocery store.

I suppose this is the story-teller in me–my predisposition toward fiction and fantasy, to the alluring realm of imagination, where anything can happen. Where there are no rules and no limits. Where there are stories hiding within ordinary, everyday objects and situations, just waiting to be discovered, explored…and written.

Now let’s go write something.