By Kristy Gherlone
Every year when the earth decided it was time to flip over and get some color on the other side, the south wind got to missing the north so bad, she’d start crying and fill up the creeks and rivers with her sorrows.
Then the north would get to missing the south, so they’d race towards one another and meet in the middle for a kiss so dizzying it would run the sea boats aground.
The trees would get sappy about the whole ordeal and weep tears so sweet, the ground would open right up and swallow them whole. Eventually, it would turn green with sickness, and busting out of its bloomers, spew colors so bright they would melt what was left of the snow.
The fish would get blue and start blubbering about being homesick. They’d swim up the fertile rivers to their old homesteads, running an uphill battle to raise a brood of kids to keep the loneliness at bay.
Undoubtedly, all the commotion would ruffle a few feathers. The birds would decide it was time to get away from the whole soppy mess, high tail it out of there, and head to New England where things were a bit more conservative.
Maribel was one of those, and one year she was just dusting with more anticipation than normal to leave.
Over the winter she’d become quite vain, having overheard some tweets about how nicely she decorated her nests. She always did care a little too much about what others thought, but it got her to wondering about what treasures she’d find in the north. If the south had such beautiful things, the north was sure to have even better.
She’d already acquired quite a few items and, reluctant to leave them behind, bartered with the trade winds to carry them up for her.
And so it was that, after settling in for the long summer ahead, while the other members of her flock were gathering seeds and soft nesting materials, Maribel was out shopping. She had a keen eye and managed to amass quite a clutch of goods.
She found strings of shiny silver, tufts of powder blue rope, beads, smooth rocks, and colorful wrappers. Tucking them gently into her beak, she carried them home and laid them out to admire before arranging them attractively around her home. Her nest wasn’t comfortable, nor was it warm, but it was pretty. Surely everyone would be jealous. She sat waiting for them to notice, but they were too busy raising their young to care.
Unfortunately, the only ones that did pay her any mind were the black hooded thieves who’d come stealing in all hours of the day. They had eyes for shiny things too, and were either too lazy or cheap to get their own stuff, and so preferred to peck and choose from Maribel’s collection. She kept guard, working herself into a frazzle, as she’d heard they could be quite murderous.
Unwilling to go out on a limb and leave her wealth for even a second, Maribel grew thin and tired. She started to doubt she’d have enough energy to make the trip back south.
When Mother Nature began to blush, right before she undressed for the season, Maribel, as small minded as she was, realized that she had a problem. Glittery things were great to look at, but they couldn’t feed you. And while she took a lot of pleasure in counting and re-counting her hoard, it didn’t do a lot towards keeping her warm.
She gave her precious valuables one last wistful look before taking flight in search for food. It was scarce by that time, but she managed to scrape enough together. She nibbled until she was able to find the strength to catch the last warm breeze streaming to the south. She vowed never to let vanity get in the way again.
She caught up to some others, who were already in deep conversation and didn’t notice her arrival. “Have you seen Maribel lately? She’s lost so much weight! I wish I could have a figure like that. I’m so jealous.”