Today is the day that I almost ended The Staycation in a very very bad bad way.
Have you ever done something where you really know you shouldn't be doing what you're doing and the Little Mom Voice in your head is telling you to Stop what you're doing this very instant or else you'll be very very sorry, young lady but you don't listen and you do the bad thing anyway?
I know you know what I'm talking about. You do it too.
Today is the second and absolute last time I get my camera wet. (You may remember the first time I got it wet, with some pretty lovely results.) This is the Bad Part of the story. (Then I'll work backwards to the Naughty and Good Parts to make it all have a happy ending.)
I was supposed to go tango dancing outside with that fellow from the tango video and it was drizzling, so he called to postpone when I was on the train, halfway to our meeting place, which put me in a teensy bit of a mood because I was really looking forward to dancing with him. (T., if you're reading this, I apologize.)
Anyway, I thought, Shoot, I've never let a little rain get in the way of something that I want to do, so I took my tango shoes and boombox back home and grabbed the camera and lots of extra batteries. I decided to head back to Telegraph Hill to see if lighting might strike twice and I could find the wild parrots again.
Let me tell you, Telegraph Hill is a bitch to climb. It's really crazy steep. But thank goodness in that last block when I thought I was going to slide back down the sidewalk, I could hear this really loud, crazy squawking so I knew that the parrots must be close by, and it was worth the trek. And the nice drizzle was keeping me from sweating.
I went back to the secret little pyracantha bush/tree I found in an alleyway at the top of the hill. Yesterday, the tree was teeming with the vibrant bright green and red wild parrots, who were devouring the red berries and making quite a squawking racket. It was a glorious sight, because the birds matched the tree in an incredible way. Their bright lime green feathers matched the leaves and their brilliant red feathers around their eyes and on their shoulders were the same color as the berries. It was a tree filled with chameleon birds.
But today, when I went back to the tree, the birds weren't there. I could hear them, but could not figure out where they were. They were loud enough so that I knew they were close by.
I trudged around the neighborhood where I could but aside from breaking into people's backyards in the rain, it looked like I was out of luck this time. No feral cherry headed conures for me.
Then I saw a few parrots flying overhead and followed them down to a part of the Filbert Street Steps that I did not know existed. (San Francisco is full of steep and wonderful stairways that you can climb for pleasure or torture, depending on your degree of fitness and choice of footwear. A delightful book that's great for touring these steps can be found online here.)
As I got closer to the terminus of the stairs, the squawking got insanely loud. The rain came down harder and the trees above me were dropping giant loads of rain onto my umbrella. As I turned to look over the retaining wall down the hillside below, I could see that I had hit the Wild Parrot Jackpot.
And this is where the Bad Part of the story happens. I had to put down all of my things, including my umbrella, in order to take photos of the birds, who were going crazy over in a tree and on a bird feeder. I walked as slowly and quietly as I could, and before I knew it, I was right on top of them, taking photos. They must be used to people because aside from grazing my head a few times, and giving me those curious sideways or dirty looks that birds do, they let me get so close to them that I could almost touch them.
And the rain poured down. I was soaking wet and soon even my sweater was too wet to wipe the camera lens on without it streaking. The Mom Voice in my head was getting louder, but the birds were so amazing that I couldn't tear myself away.
When I finally left the birds, I knew I had done a bad thing. I was so sopping wet that even my socks inside my boots were wet and my hair was a dripping mess. I postponed the Bad Part (where I check my camera) by having a piece of Golden Boy Pizza, which can cure most ills and is probably some of the best pizza in town. But then came the reckoning.
The camera appeared to be giving up the ghost. The lens wouldn't retract and the camera kept shutting itself off and saying horrible things like lens error, restart camera. And it was making a little squeaky sound, like a mouse on a wheel in a cage sound. Super Not Good.
I tried to google some answers to see if there was something I could do for my poor drowned Canon, but to no avail. Then I thought maybe I could blow-dry the camera with the hairdryer and see what happens. At this point, what did I have to lose?
So I did. I blew dried my camera.
And after a little while, the squeaky mouse wheel sound was gone and the camera appears to be fine and we're on speaking terms again.
So that was the Naughty Part.
And now here is the Good Part. Why I was willing to do such a stupid thing in the first place. These wild parrots are exciting to watch and a gorgeous treat for the eye. They are true eye candy. I have so many photos of them that I'll probably upload an entire set to flickr, but in the meantime, here's a taste. (For the record, the color in these images is not tweaked at all... this is exactly how beautiful these birds are. You can look right into their eyes and feel their little parroty personalities just by standing still and watching them.)
The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill, here is an excerpt so you can have a peek into the world of these wild and beautiful birds and the city we share with them. You've really got to see this film-- it's magical.