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It’s Different in the Tropics.

Very different.

Students at the University of Miami, under attack by hawks, are escorted across nesting areas by security guards with umbrellas (hawks consider umbrellas unthreatening), in a procedure known as hawk walk. UM has crocodile problems too.

UD doesn’t have a hawk problem at her house in Key West, but she’s got a parrot problem.

It’s more a question than a problem. It only occurred to her today, and it may be peculiar to UD because of her house’s odd setting on the other side of a jungle wall from Nancy Forrester’s famous parrots. (There are many unfamous, uncaged parrots in Key West. UD watched one of them today with its owner, a restaurateur. The owner sat in a wicker chair talking on his cell phone, while the bird, bored, hopped around trying to get his attention. Eventually the bird started eating the wicker.)

Nancy Forrester’s parrots, as you know, don’t merely squawk and shriek. They talk. A lot. All at once. This isn’t refined parrot, as in this excerpt from Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities Specially Adapted for Parrots. (It’s about a minute into the YouTube.) It’s a cacophony.

One bird alone among the Forrester lot has a lovely soft melodic voice. She only says Hello, but she says it so wistfully. HAH-loo. HAAAAH-looooo. Smooth and sad. A lute amid the loons.

So this afternoon, sitting in the jacuzzi, I suddenly heard only her, inches away from me, doing her Hello.

I said hello back, imitating her lutelike voice.

And she said it again, and I said it again, and she said it again, und so weiter.

I was delighted.

Until the thought crept upon me that maybe behind the green wall was not the parrot who said hello, but a person, like me, saying hello like the parrot and thinking that the parrot was saying hello. Thinking that behind the ferns and palms was not an English professor on sabbatical sitting in a tub trying to sound like a parrot, but one of Nancy Forrester’s parrots saying hello.

Margaret Soltan, April 23, 2009 7:07PM
Posted in: snapshots from key west

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3 Responses to “It’s Different in the Tropics.”

  1. RJO Says:

    > "Students at the University of Miami, under attack by hawks, are escorted across nesting areas by security guards with umbrellas"

    Wow, I wrote a whole piece about that very situation as providing an unparalleled opportunity for liberal education:


    Homer, Robert Frost, James Russell Lowell, Roman mosaics, NASA space probes, and Aeschylus. It’s all there.

  2. ttbdan Says:

    It was the Cranky Professor in mufti, suspiciously also on sabbatical this term…

  3. Margaret Soltan Says:

    ttbdan: LOL.

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