Aging: Being dumped on not necessarily a bad thing

At a recent Elks hamburger Monday night, I was asked if I knew the story about the nonconforming Superior sparrow and if I had used it in a previous article. The fragile memory conversation that followed pretty much exemplified the old line about...

At a recent Elks hamburger Monday night, I was asked if I knew the story about the nonconforming Superior sparrow and if I had used it in a previous article. The fragile memory conversation that followed pretty much exemplified the old line about the blind leading the blind. I'm not sure either; so my memory isn't any better than his. And my record keeping system needs a great deal of improvement; actually 100 percent.

He suggested that maybe I should use it in any case since the three morals of the story are well worth repeating. So, if I have used it before and you happened to read that column, I apologize for using it again. And if I haven't -- I think you're going to like it as the two of us do. It does fit the present and coming season in Superior -- snowbird season.

What about these human snowbirds? Too late to ask some of them; they've already left. They are the early snowbirds. Several more of them are getting ready to leave and don't want to forget things lots more important than the sparrow story. Are you one of them? Are you one of those folks who feel that it is important to go south and miss the snow and cold? If so, I hope you haven't left yet or that you are subscribing to the Telegram to keep up with your cold weather friends up here in the North Country battling the daunting elements of winter. Have you no concern? Have you no pity?

Actually, I don't mind winters in Superior. Sure, I'll have to admit that there are some challenging days when getting down for the 6 a.m. coffee session at Julie's takes a little additional doing. But by golly, starting your day with all that laughter is worthwhile! And actually, if you are looking for old folks to spend the winter with, us fellas aren't kids any more either. I think it was Bob Goligoski who is reported to have said that was one reason he couldn't spend the winter in the south -- there are too many old folks down there.

I've got some questions for those of you who do spend the winter in the warm and snowless south. Do you miss getting geared up to go out on the frosty mornings, proving you don't allow cantankerous weather elements get the better of you? Are you ever accused of running south with your tail between your legs? Do you miss the friendly and hearty souls that you've left behind? Are you balancing the increasing gasoline costs for the trip against the increased heating costs if you stayed? And how about other property decisions while you're away?


Well, you've made your decision by this time, so this chitter chatter isn't going to influence you one way or the other. Maybe if global warming really does move in, in a big way, we'll all have to re-examine our priorities.

What would we call the human birds then that take Canadian refuge from the hot summers? It wouldn't have been a difficult decision in the old days when the money exchange was so favorable. Now, we would have to think about it. But what would we call the human birds that went north in the summer to escape the heat? Maybe cool birds? (You'll know why I didn't use cool cats when you hear the story.)

Well, it is time for the main purpose of this column. What about the nonconforming sparrow? Let's make certain that this story gets officially on the record:

Once upon a time there was a nonconforming Superior sparrow that decided not to fly south for the winter. He was a sturdy soul and wasn't going to be daunted by cold and snow. Wasn't too bad at first -- a relatively nice fall like this one, but then there came a most serious change in the weather. One early December day the weather turned miserably cold accompanied by a severe snowstorm and the sparrow reluctantly had to change his mind; he couldn't take any more cold and started flying south.

However, it wasn't long until ice began to form on his wings and before he knew it, he fell to the ground somewhere in the Solon Springs area. He was almost frozen and had given up any hope of survival when a cow walked by and "crapped" (would you prefer defecated) on him. At first, the sparrow figured that the jig was up; his end was near. He could hardly breathe. But as good luck would have it, the warm manure soon defrosted his wings. Warmer and happy for his good fortune, he began to sing.

Now comes the sad part of the story. A large barnyard cat heard the chirping and came out to investigate the sounds and see what was going on. The cat rapidly and systematically cleared away the manure, discovered the chirping bird and ate him.

Now the three morals of the story which are important for all of us to keep in mind:

1) Everyone that dumps on you is not necessarily your enemy.


2) Everyone that gets you out from under the pile is not necessarily your friend.

3) But if you're warm and happy, even after having been dumped on, keep your mouth shut. (We can use that advice at other times, too.)

Bernie Hughes, Ed.D., is a retired educator who resides in Superior. He can be reached at .

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