Friday, April 6, 2007

Parrot Paradox

The mass of twigs on the lowest rung of this power tower is home for a colony of parrots. Also the twigs on the middle rung, and I think they're starting a penthouse on the top rung too. They are a species called monk parakeets, native to the temperate regions of South America. Wild colonies of these birds are quite firmly established in Houston, Dallas and Austin, in all of which places I've seen and admired them. Handsome vivid green psittacines with long tapered parrot-tails. They evidently think that power towers are a fine place for their colonial nests. Near where I live, deep within the city limits of Houston, these South American parrots swoop and chortle in the air over a herd of horses (paints, bays, palominos) grazing in the power line right-of-way between two of the most-traveled thoroughfares in the city.

Civilization utterly disrupts whatever natural ecology it touches. And at this point, civilization touches the whole face of the Earth and another few planets besides. A small community of forward-thinking scientists are engaged in Mars exploration planetary protection studies, not just to protect Earth from Mars microbes, but also to protect Mars from being contaminated by living things from Earth! On Mars and on Earth, ecological chaos is not a happy prospect. And yet: I can appreciate the joie de vivre of the misplaced parrots on a sunny day like today. I'd like to think that enjoying watching the parrots is a good sentiment, an extension of being truly dismayed by how much humanity resembles a plague species on Earth – and yet able to love other people.

Contradictions demand resolution into one term or the other. Either this or that. Good vs. bad. Black or white. Sometimes a contradiction is irresolvable: an endless war, or an irresistible force and immoveable object staring each other down until something breaks. Paradoxes work differently. This AND that, yin and yang – order and chaos. Death and life. A Friday that commemorates a heinous execution perpetrated by a militaristic state; and yet this Friday is the one called Good. When I have to live with opposites as tense and charged as a live power wire – I'd much rather the opposites be paradox. Paradoxes form the kind of existential space in which we can be alive and in love with the world.

Paradoxes persist. So, it seems, do parrots.

1 comment:

Jayme Lynn Blaschke said...

There are a couple of colonies nesting amongst the transformers atop poles in Temple as well, and there used to be (although I've never seen them myself) a flock roaming the skies of San Marcos. A very interesting sight, indeed.