She Swoops to Conquer

In the late nineties, incessant talk of the benefits of yoga and meditation were thrust upon the western world. Ellen DeGeneres did a bit about what pops up in all the silence meditation creates.  For her it was a laundry jingle:  Mama keeps whites bright like the sunshine.  Mama’s got the magic of Clorox 2.


For me, it’s often something that makes me giggle like Matt Damon dancing in a confetti booth, or the scene in The Birds when Tippy Hedren so breezily operates an outboard motor until a bird puppet awkwardly bumps her on the head.

I know the latter reveals a darker part of my subconscious-after all an attack by a bird isn’t funny.  However, if you’ve never seen or heard of anyone being attacked by a bird, the whole concept of The Birds seems cartoonish at best.  Who’s afraid of a bunch of birds?


Well.  Leave it to Hitchcock to wait until we moved to Australia to avenge his film and forever change this image of Tippy for me.  He began slowly and unassumingly-a hallmark of his work.  When we arrived in Sydney last year, he revealed only this sign in Darling Harbor:

Screen Shot 2014-10-20 at 5.26.37 PM

Roughly nine months later we arrived in Brisbane and spotted several people riding by with helmets like the one below.

“Hm,” I asked my husband, “what’s the story with the festive hats?”

Then he came home with a pile of zip ties and two huge laminated drawings of eyeballs.

“What’s happening here?”  I asked.

“Work gave us these today.  If we stick the eyes on the back of our helmets they’ll scare away birds when we ride our bikes.”

“And the zip ties?” I asked.

“People tie them on their helmets so birds can’t land on them.”

“What?  I don’t believe you.  Why would birds want to land on moving people’s heads?”

“Listen, from August to October,” he said very seriously, “magpies lay eggs.  They see anything passing by as a threat to their young and attack.”

“Oh,” I’ve experienced that biological, mama bear surge to protect my son, “that is terrifying.”

“Look at this,” he showed me the photograph below.

Then tales of horror from work rolled in:

~The Company Manager was told not to take a certain route to work today because of a swooping magpie.

~The Assistant Stage Manager burst into the office today on the verge of tears-he was swooped by a magpie on his bike three times: it followed him.

~The Dance Supervisor was supposed to come over for dinner tonight, but she was swooped by a magpie.  She’s ok, but it was so terrifying she decided to call it a night.

Now when I finish my yoga class there are no more thought bubbles of Tippy Hedren to make me giggle.  The thought of my son with eyeballs on his helmet does make me smile a little bit, just a little.



writer---currently in London


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