The Natives are Getting Restless

It’s spring and the natives are getting restless. We noticed that two doves were in the garage one day, so I chased them out. The next day they were back. Every time the door opened, they’d rush in. I looked for a nest, but couldn’t find one. The kept pooping on the Jaguar, which I took to be a critical statement, and one I could certainly agree with sometimes. One day my assistant, Paula, took the Jaguar to the car wash, and the attendant handed her the nest. That had been inside the car, in the pocket on the passenger-side door. I think this could be the new slogan Jaguar is looking for: “It may not run all the time, but it makes a dandy bird sanctuary!”

The finches were more successful at setting up housekeeping. Every year fifty or so gather on my bedroom terrace and screech at each other for a couple of days (this is very restful for me). The lucky winners move into a side vent outside my fireplace. The sound really echoes around in the fireplace, but it’s only noisy at feeding time. However, there are a lot of feeding times, beginning before dawn. I noticed that something was eating the peaches on my peach tree. We checked and found a huge hole in the bird netting I had put over it. So we repaired the hole, but then I felt guilty. What if the little baby birds were depending on those peaches? So I took out all the damaged ones and left them by the nest. Yup, I’m not only losing sleep over my new neighbors, I’m catering the whole thing.

Birds aren’t the only critters stirring. Two squirrels have moved in nearby, and they stage daily torment-the-Basset sessions. She’ll go barreling down the hill, barking furiously, while they scamper up the trees and laugh at her. One day I couldn’t hear Hennessy, so I looked down the hill, where she was pointing in the vegetable garden. At the four-foot snake. So I shrieked, got both dogs inside, and called Animal Control. They said they’d be right over, and don’t let it leave. I don’t know about you, but the schools I went to don’t teach rattlesnake restraining. I thought about putting out a nice buffet of peaches. Turned out it was a gopher snake that had gotten caught in the bird netting (see how well that works? Doesn’t stop birds, keeps snakes trapped in your garden!). So we released him. I told Hennessy, “Good girl. Don’t find any more snakes.”

The snake wasn’t the first visitor to get stuck. One day I walked downstairs and Pedrina, my housekeeper, announced, “There’s an owl.” Turned out a great horned owl had gotten stuck to a piece of trash by the trash cans and couldn’t get loose. Pedrina said, “Don’t worry, little bird, I’ll help you.” Little Bird hissed and lunged at her. I thought if I could just hold down the trash, he’d have the leverage to get free. So I hid behind a can (owls are pretty vicious), and held down the trash with a pole. Then I had a really angry owl stuck to my pole. From now on I leave the predators to Animal Control.

And it’s not just L.A. I was driving on the freeway, south of Tucson, when I heard a funny vibration. Pulled over, found the back gate had come loose. I closed and locked it, but a few miles away it happened again. Closed it again, drove another few miles, and something flew off the truck. I walked back to see what it was, and two Border Patrol guys pulled over to help me. We realized that my rear roof rack had come loose, snapped off, and pulled up the track. The truck’s three weeks old. Border Guys said, “Ford should pay for that.” I assured them Ford would.

Well, you know where this is going. The two Ford dealerships in Santa Monica both assessed the situation and solemnly assured my assistant, Paula that it simply could not have happened. Paula stood before the twisted wreckage and assured them that it did. They insisted I must have hit something. It was on the freeway. In the middle of the desert. There was nothing to hit. I know it was a pretty windy day, but I do expect my vehicles not to fly apart in the wind. Well, the Jaguar maybe, but not the Ford.

I thought it over and decided there was only one explanation. Remember, I was in the middle of nowhere and there was nothing to hit. Who pulled over to help? The Border Patrol, whose job it is to stem illegal immigration. The answer is obvious. Aliens ate my roof rack. Probably illegal ones.

So we took it back to Star Ford, where I bought it. They were glad to fix it, no charge. They made an appointment with Paula. They were there early waiting for her. They offered her any car on the lot as a loaner. The car was ready when they said it would be. They actually fixed what they said they were going to.

We’re a little bit in shock. Then I understood. Polite, helpful reliable service from a Ford dealer? One named “Star” Ford? Obviously the place is run by aliens.

Copyright 1997 by Janine Smith. Not to be reproduced or distributed without permission