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December 21, Sarasota, Florida, 3000 block of Clark Avenue. Just before 5:00p.m.
Sometimes if you pause for a minute you become a captive audience in a world of strangers. The pausing gives someone else a chance to speak.
So there I was sitting outside on a bench on which was painted an advertisement I didn’t care to notice, waiting for my daughter Olivia. She had run into a convenience store to buy a cool drink.
I saw a petite, olive-skinned woman in her sixties with a crimson red scarf look at me and pause as she got into her white Ford Taurus. Was she looking at me or at someone in the window of the store behind me? It seemed like she wanted to say something, so I chose to help her by looking right back at her and giving her my full attention.
“Do you see the parrots over there between the trees?” she asked me. She pointed far away. It was an unusual remark from a stranger and it took me a minute to see what she was talking about. Then, I saw some distinct shapes on the telephone wires. At first they looked like the common birds I see back home in Ohio, but on closer inspection, and to my amazement, I saw by their hookbills that they were indeed parrots. There were several groups of them, perched side by side as close as possible to each other.
“Yes, I see them,” I said. Cars and trucks drove under them in rush hour oblivion.
“They mate for life,” she said.
How romantic, I thought.
“If one dies, it’s just terrible,” she went on. “The other will kill them self, by pulling their feathers out. I’m from Brazil, I know a lot about parrots.”
“That’s so sad,” I said, picturing a lone parrot with just a few feathers left on its wing.
“It’s beautiful up there, yes?” she asked me.
“Yes,” I said.
She smiled at me, got in to her car, quietly closed the door and started her engine.
I stared at the parrots . . . wild, in love on the telephone wire. I wouldn’t have noticed them if she hadn’t pointed them out.