Posted by: Natalie | February 24, 2011

Magpies

Of all the birds that descend into my garden, the magpie is undoubtedly the one with the most weight to carry. From the second we see them our superstitious nature triggers and all the accompanying prejudices make us look down on this bird like no other. Despite their elegance and costume we know ultimately they are thieves, searching out the new shiny and casting aside all previous possessions.

However, I am always willing to give them a chance, one of the picture books I have developed sees the ‘hero’ to the tale as this glamorous prince, swiftly swooping into the night to save us all. In my story there is no tipping of the hat nor any saluting of the Magpie in order to ward off bad omens, there is no need for dispensing of such proper respects as my magpie was no such evil-doer.

But something uncomfortable has made me think and the theory of this black and white rogue has begun to play in my head – these birds aim for the sparkling and new, something precious to us and undoubtedly, at the time, precious to them in turn. But what happens when those shiny things become tarnished and scratched through over use? Where do they go when they are no longer of the same importance? Are they cast aside so as to make room for the new precious? Or simply sat upon, festering under a pile of other blackened things? Either way, this is a sorry state of affairs, the lives of these objects have been cut short. Whether thrown from the perch or nested in the dark, the taking prevents others from benefiting from each item’s shine.

It also means that rings and bling find themselves a little lost. Being thrown down the line and waiting, just waiting for the day when they will be wanted again is a depressing place to be. The desire to be seen for what they are and not just for a specific need is one which could eat away and diminish what may be left of their silverly glow. I hope for their sake they choose to a sense of resignation and accept their fate because to hope for something seemingly lost is a yearning I don’t think one could take.

I am quite sure the magpies never think this far, after all there will always be something new and shiny waiting in the wings. This does not make them bad omens or evil, it simply makes them fickle. And who are we, as people, to chastise and condemn for this? Better we simply accept what they are, nod our good mornings and think on them no more.

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