So Many Birds and Too Little Time
I could have narrowed our bird theme down to one kind of bird! Just listing birds could have eaten up the an entire hour. But listing is not nearly as fun as hearing all the bird stories that were told around the quilt. Almost everyone had one!
Out of all the stuff I brought (which I didn't really need) the rooster probably triggered the most stories. Many had farm memories and I tried not to cringe hearing about "Mama grabbing the chicken and laying that neck down on the log..." We talked about how it was just part of growing up in many households, but Mary said she still could never watch.
Hunters or Birdwatchers
We didn't get into a discussion on the sport of duck hunting, but there were a few who discussed the different birds they love to eat from goose to duck. Then we had some mouthwatering debates over the best chicken recipes.
We had a lot more talk about birds as pets or the hobby of bird watching. There were some good parrot stories, mostly about teaching birds bad language!
The log birdhouse on the table inspired lots of pondering about designs of birdhouses and feeders and birdbaths! I loved hearing Betty's description of watching the birds from her window on a rainy day.
I wish I'd been able to capture some photos of the dancing action with my group at the Community Center! Music is always a hit with this group! Betty who taught music over 50 years ago always shines with our music trivia. "Swan Lake!" "Red, Red Robin!" She knew all the answers.
And I have a few who can't stay seated if there's anything that resembles a beat. Mary was out of her seat with "Rockin' Robin" and a few more were up with "Funky Chicken" which is NOT the Chicken Dance! I was exhausted from all that knee and elbow wobbling, so I tamed the group with Danny Kaye's "Ugly Duckling". His voice was mesmerizing as he sang and told the story. The group applauded after. Not for Danny, but for Mary who had accompanied the whole story with facial expressions and gestures. Vera, who was brand new to our gathering, grinned and clapped longest. "I knew that story!" She said with an accent. "But I never heard that song when I lived in Brazil!"
This flat paper mask is not nearly as exciting as some of the feathered masks we've seen in Mardi Gras parades or at Native American ceremonies. But the mask got my Alzheimer's group pretty tickled. I always need something to wake up my sleepy, after- lunch group! This simple and silly mask did the trick.
The feathers on the table reminded us of other ways to dress up with feathers. Joe mentioned seeing feathers in hats which lead 1 group into a spontaneous "Yankee Doodle Dandy" performance.
A few tried on the pink feather boa, which reminded Adelle of giant feather fans used in burlesque shows. That image cracked a few of us up!
We discussed some less frivolous uses for feathers, like feather dusters, and quill pens. A few remembered being jabbed by feathers poking out of pillows and feather mattresses.
But the most unique idea was shared by a latecomer in my last group. "We're discussing birds." I said, as I pointed towards an empty seat, with the feather I was holding. "That's good," She smiled. "My maiden name is Byrd!" Then she looked at my feather and began to tell a story about how she had speech problems as a child. A feather was used by the therapist to help her visualize the sounds coming out of her mouth.
Books and Movies
We brainstormed some bird related book and movie titles. A few of us remembered being terrified by Hitchcock's thriller. I shared my favorite children's book, "Are You My Mother?"
The sweet illustrations of the baby bird and his scarf-wearing mama, brought many smiles. Almost all were familiar with "To Kill a Mockingbird". In one group we were reminded, "The story isn't really about a Mockingbird..." It was sweet to hear Mary explain the meaning behind the title.
We came up with quite a few bird cartoon characters like, Woody and Daffy... Donald and Tweetie. We even listened to a really annoying recording of Mel Blanc and the Woody Woodpecker Song.
But we really had the most fun recalling bird related phrases. I started out, "Birds of a feather..." And without hesitation all 4 groups continued, "Flock together!" From there it was fun to hear all the ideas from my different groups.
Bird Brain, duck-footed, light as a feather, he's cuckoo, silly goose, eating crow, that's for the birds, eagle eye, hawk eye, crazy as a loon, chicken legs, she's a wise old owl...
Bird Watching... in Books
My very last group was the smallest. The atmosphere was so peaceful and cozy, we ended up actually enjoying the colorful books that the other groups had hardly had time for.
We talked about what makes a bird beautiful... the colors, shape, sound? We wondered about the symbolic Nightingale and the Stork. We remembered the lullaby, "Hush Little Baby Don't Say a Word" . It was touching to hear all our voices together, attempting to recall the verses we had sung to our children... or our own mothers had sung to us!
What I Learned:
My groups taught me a lot. I learned about storks and their migration from Africa to Europe. A WWII vet talked about memories of Italy and the sound of cuckoos living in the trees. A few were happy to tell me that the turkey almost became our National Bird... and that crows can count.
I learned about some children watching robins in their schoolyard. The silly birds were drunk from fermented berries! I heard stories and I learned lots of facts, but mostly I was reminded about how rich and satisfying it is to talk about these amazing creatures. luckily, not a single person sitting around the quilt had ORNITHOPHOBIA!
For 20+ years children have called it the Magic Quilt. They've danced and pretended all over these colorful squares. I've dragged it to schools, shelters and studios where children have climbed on top to hear Magic Quilt Stories and to act them out.