Chasing Pigeons

I’ve never understood pigeon haters who dismiss them as flying rats. First, even if that were an apt comparison, how is that a bad thing? Rodents with wings? Adorable! Second, what’s wrong with a pigeon–in its place? They’re not unattractive–sort of shimmery. They make sweet, comforting noises, like your mother might make while cradling your head to her bosom. Best of all, they provide free entertainment to tire out your child. (Assuming your child is still young enough to be gullible.)

Trafalgar Square

Pigeons at Trafalgar Square

When I was little, my mother’s mantra referring to all things feathered or furred was if you can catch it, you can keep it. Now, my mother was not a dumb woman. Not once did we go home with suitcases stuffed with pigeons, swans, feral cats, foxes, or ducklings–but not for lack of trying.

When we took 3-year-old Granuaile to Iceland and Germany this year, we quickly learned that her energy was not well-suited to tiny European hotels. We tried to get her to kick a ball around or run in circles. Get your ya-yas out, we’d tell her, but whether she was uninspired or self-conscious, she refused to do it.

Conveniently, every town seemed to have a square full of pigeons. She chased pigeons in Reykjavik, despite the buffeting winds. She chased pigeons in Munich in the fall sunshine.

chasing pigeons

The pigeons in Munich outsmarted her...

She donned her fleece hat that made her look like a knight-errant and chased pigeons in Füssen and Rothenberg ob der Tauber.

Füssen did the pigeons in Füssen.

She couldn’t believe her luck. The trip was an otherwise endless parade of don’ts and hushes. Here were pigeons and I didn’t mind if she ran screaming into them, her arms wide apart, ready to grab if even the smallest feather slipped through her fingers. Really, Mommy? Really, I can? she’d ask. Of course you may, I’d say, and if you catch one, you can keep it.

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2 Responses to Chasing Pigeons

  1. We always let Lil run free after birds, most notably in Washington DC green in front of the Smithsonian. If only I had the optimism of a child…

  2. Anne says:

    My mom always told us the same thing. Then my little brother actually caught a duck, from the creek near our house, and brought in onto the screened-in back porch. It made a mess like you can’t *believe*. And he didn’t get to keep it, either.

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