Here’s the first meiosis (I had to look that word up) for 2011: “Last year ended up kinda weird.” Over here in west Arkansas, we had a New Year’s Eve tornado that claimed the lives of 3 people. Three more up in Missouri. Having lived in the Natural State for over half a century, I don’t recall another tornado, ever, into the winter like that.
Then, just before midnight the same night, five thousand blackbirds dropped dead out of the sky in Beebe. A day or so later, it was revealed that 100,000 dead drum fish were discovered in the Arkansas River near Ozark. I’m still not sure as to when, exactly, those fish were supposed to have died.
So far, the Game & Fish has indicated their belief that the fish died from some kind of disease. OK. I guess that makes sense – that there’s some fish malady in the big river that only affects drum. It could happen.
But, this bird thing…it’s a mystery. After first coming out and suggesting that the blackbirds (redwings, most of them) died from the stress of year-end celebratory fireworks - then, perhaps, realizing what a totally ludicrous explanation that was – they’ve now concluded that the cause of death was some sort of blunt force trauma. You think? How high does a blackbird fly? High enough to get a knot on its head after dying, from something, and crashing to the pavement? And, just to add insult to blunt force trauma injury, they’re telling us this birdocide had nothing to do with the croaking of the drum fish. Just a coincidence. Right.
I remember a time, many years ago, when there were so many blackbirds roosting in the pines beside the Arkansas College gym that they had to bring out cannons to try and scare them away. Don’t recall any of them dying from fright, or flying into those pines, breaking their little necks, as they tried to get away. Birds are actually pretty good aviators. And I can’t recollect any 5th of July morning, after an evening when my neighborhood looked and sounded like Duhbyuh’s invasion of Baghdad, that my yard was covered with the little feathered fellers.
At first, I concocted a scenario that the blackbirds, hearing the exploding fireworks, realizing it wasn’t independence day, thought it was the shock and awe of the apocalypse and kamikazied themselves into the ground. Then the fish heard about this. Knowing the river was carrying them in that direction, they all died from anxiety. Drum fish, as everybody knows, are more emotional and socially conscious than, say, trout. They wear their little hearts on their fins.
Then, I remembered the only time I ever saw a bunch of belly-up fish floating on top of the water was back when me ‘n Bob Slisher used to sneak up to the pond around 2 am and toss lit sticks of dynamite in there. From my understanding, that’s because the explosion depletes the water of oxygen. They can’t breathe, and, since they’re not witches, they float.
Coal miners used to keep canaries in cages in the mines. If there was a methane gas leak into the “hole” the gas displaced the oxygen, and the bird dropped over dead – letting the miners know it was time to get out.
So, what do these two things have in common? I dunno. Oxygen? Is it possible that the weather conditons that generated tornadoes on New Year’s Eve, somehow, sucked the oxygen out of the sky, and also out of just the part of the Arkansas River where the drum fish were hanging out? Hey, I’m just asking.
Maybe it a suicide pact between the species? Something to do with that lunar eclipse a while back?
Can you imagine what ancient writers would have penned had they witnessed the moon turning orange, as it did, and then saw this happening?
Personally, I’m hoping that the next phenom around here is mass sightings of UFOs. Ancient Aliens freaks like myself can tie all that together and deduce that the Martians are coming for us, first killing off these critters that they suspect to be threats. It’ll make for a much more interesting story than the birds and fish both eating from some common contaminated food source. And it’ll make more sense than five thousand birds being clubbed by Sarah Palin chasing them down in a helicopter or (duh) flying into trees. And, maybe it’ll boost book sales a little.
© 2011, Rick Baber