Setting A Great Tit Free. …Silly Bird, Kitchens Are For People!

Earlier this morning, after the kids had all gone to school my wife and I were hanging out on the couch, I was watching the episode of Family Guy where they reenact Star Wars on Netflix and my wife kept hitting pause to show me funny videos posted on Facebook.

The last video she hit pause for was one with a bunch of clips with people getting attacked by birds. She was laughing like a lunatic and mentioned how she loves birds, but is scared to death of them and is glad that we moved to Würzburg where we can see more nature every day.

After watching and laughing over the video, she got up to check on the kid’s rooms and see if everything was still “in Ordnung”

…She’s German, and part of being good at being German (good or bad) is Ordnung und Arbeit, Arbeit, Arbeit! Even when we’re in the middle of a show “Ordnung muss sein!” You never know. something, somewhere, could be out of place! Or Gottes Willen! Schimmel could be growing at anytime, anyplace, for any reason and that… That would be nicht in Ordnung.

Ordnung ist das halbe leben. …Einverstanden!

Knowing full well that if I went ahead and hit play before she’d finished her perimeter sweep for Unordlichkeit and potential Schimmel growth I’d have to hit pause on Family Guy again.

So, instead I stepped out onto our balcony to inspect my birdfeeder.

We lived in her hometown, Nürnberg the first nine years we were together. It’s a great city, but the kids were getting older, we had to constantly be by their side where we lived and it was a 10 – 20 minute bus, train, taxi, bike or whatever other sorts of ride we chose to get far away enough from the concrete to  see any real nature.

One day, about a year and a half ago I said “Enough!” I loved living in the bigger city but wanted my kids to grow up around nature, with a little slower pace to life and decided it was time to move.

Before my wife and I met I had been a soldier, stationed in Vilseck and to get out of work would volunteer to escort other soldiers to mandatory substance abuse classes at the Army base in Wuerzburg.

It was during this time that I fell in love with the city. Wuerzburg is gorgeous. Surrounded by nature, and filled with good natured people I loved dropping off “God’s Gifts To The Army” at their meetings and exploring the city.

Plus, the base in Wuerzburg had the only Taco Bell in Germany so it was a good day for me every time a coworker needed a little legally mandated course correction with their priorities in life. …Schadenfreude!

It didn’t take too much convincing to get my wife on board. And before long she was all in with changing things up and moving to one of the most beautiful cities in Germany.

Since we had lived the better part of a decade in a concrete jungle one of the very first things I did when we moved into our new home was put a bird feeder on our balcony.

You just don’t see too many critters in the big city unless it’s some variation of R.O.U.S. (if you don’t what those are you need to sit down and watch The Princess Bride, then really ask yourself what you’ve been doing with your life up to this point). Seriously, the Pegnitz river rats in Nürnberg get HUGE!

Especially where we lived in the Nürnberger Südstadt. Don’t get me wrong, the Suedstadt is fantastic. It’s actually safe, cheap, a hop skip and a jump from downtown and has grocery stores, Döner ladens and pizza joints around the corner in every direction.  The people on “the wrong side of the tracks” are more down to earth and I loved living there.

The city just didn’t pour much into the aesthetics of that area which, to make a long story short if create a facade of poverty and reinforce that with media your average member of society won’t dig any deeper than a what you see is what you get approach and voila! …What I’m trying to say without saying it is I’ve learned that more often than in Germany the poor look rich, the rich look poor, the insane are crazy like a fox and the sane are what I can only assume willfully ignorant. That’s something you can only learn by living in the Capital of Franconia and spending time with people. The Suedstadt is a diamond in the rough, you just have to have thick skin and know where to look. Alter!

The Pegnitz river rats in Nuremberg though… Those are R-O-U-S’s and anyone can see that. Just look at the title of this article on Nordbayern.de: Nürnberger Südstadt ist ein Hotspot fur Ratten! Any topic that can be refined to a sentence containing the words Hotspot for rats is probably not exaggerated.

Apparently the river rats that swim in the Pegnitz which flows through the Old City are endangered or were endangered so the city let them be. A large number of the beasts made their way through the sewer system or followed their noses to the many restaurants that pepper the Southside of the tracks and within a few generations evolved into a subspecies of Franken Rat hell bent on taking over the world.

If it’s made in Franconia it’s Franken. There is Franken Water, Franken Kale (no website), Franken Wine, Franken Job Johnnies if it happens or is made in Franconia which is only called Bavaria to keep the taxman happy it’s called Franken so I call the R-O-U-S population of Nuremberg’s Pegnitz rats Franken Rats.

Nürnberg Franken Ratte im Ruhestand auf der Königstrasse.
This is a tiny little Pegnitz rat that just wasn’t ready for life in the big city. I feel bad for the little guy, but they are everywhere and apparently lost the fear of humans. A lot of Nürnbergers say they don’t notice the rats. Which is a level of situational unawareness that gives me cause to wonder how those people pay bills on time, remember what day it is, and get dressed from day to day. Willful ignorance at it’s finest. This little guy was laid out on the sidewalk of Königstr. and the note says, “I’m resting please don’t feed.”

I was all excited when I had installed the birdbath and the winter birds showed up, just like on… just like the tv show in my head.

While the wife was off Ordnung machen and strategizing the logistics of her cold war against invisible Schimmel monsters, I stepped out onto the Balkon to embrace the inner bird nerd.

It was cold, so I went back into to drag Meister Proper back to our show, but got distracted by whatever could be in the fridge on the way.

Not, realizing I hadn’t closed the balcony door behind me.

Dunkles Küche
Our kitchen isn’t actually that dark, it’s just the way the light hit the camera, but the fall leaves are really popping out in this picture so I decided to go ahead and post it.

 

Küche in Lindleinsmühle, Würzburg
I know. We have a green kitchen. Eventually I want to switch out the shelves with white cupboards, paint the walls blue and bam! We’ll be cooking in the Tardis.
I actually posted this so you can see the window. German windows are double pained and you either open them on an angle or open the whole thing inward so you can clean it.
Took forever to get the height just right on the countertops…. And moving that stuff out of the way while being attacked by a bird was no pick-nick either.

As I stepped into our kitchen a Great Tit (Parus major) flew past my head, clipping my ear as it rocketed into the kitchen.

What a great name for a bird. The Wintervogeln that use the bird bath on our balcony is all Tits.

All winter long I can ask people if they want to come over and watch a tit bath, tit fights, see a balcony covered in tits, see more tits than you can count. …Setting my friends up for disappointment. It’s my thing, it’s what I do. Schadenfreude!

The great tit landed on a counter, then had a freak out smashing into the window. Then, when that didn’t work it attacked every part of the kitchen, I got hit in the head by a great tit and more smashing into the window.

This went on for about two minutes, that tit went insane.

The entire time my wife was behind me screaming in horror, laughing, and saying how cute it is, then screaming again.

Eventually, the poor bird got tired enough to sit still while I cleared the space in front of the kitchen window and opened it.

Once it saw that it had a chance to escape, the tit did a little more attacking of everything in the kitchen for good measure and rested on the light before I coaxed it out.

The strange coincidence, synchronicity, a casual parallelism, or whatever you want to call it isn’t the first it’s happened.

Watching a video about birds attacking, then getting attacked by a bird in my kitchen is odd, but then again reality is stranger than fiction.

When I was stationed in Vilseck I lived on post in the barracks. The actual town of Vilseck is pretty far off from the base and doesn’t have much to do.

And, having an early morning start time meant that if you didn’t want to spend a fair chunk of change and time just getting to an area with nightlife you had to make your own fun with what you had until the weekend.

There are a fair amount of bars, but there are also a fair amount of people with the same sort of job who can’t let work go and I compartmentalise work is work and fun is fun. I can have fun at work, but prefer to not even think about work when I’m having fun.

Because of this, I tended not to go out except for on weekends and stayed close to home. Visiting friends with housing for barbecues, gaming in someone else’s room or just reading.

The barracks were three to a room, that’s one room shared with two others, all of your personal items and issued gear, furniture and whatever else people deemed necessary.

Things got real small, real quick living like that, fortunately, my roommates and I all got along, had close to the same interest and adapted to simply coping.

Beer helped, someone always did a beer run. Our room shared a bathroom with a conjoining room.

On one night in early fall, one of the guys from the conjoined room found himself… Not necessarily lonely, but when you live in such close quarters with people you work with all day and do everything together with if you get a rare opportunity to enjoy some alone time you just might catch yourself wishing you had someone around.

That’s Murphy’s Law for you.

This was one of those nights. Little Rob’s roomies were out. Doing something else, and after a while Little Rob realized he was bored.

Little Rob, casually came over to our room where we were all sitting in our corners silently wishing each of the other would leave, only speaking to offer more beer out of courtesy more than a sense of caring.

Little Rob walked in, looked around, and said, “Y’all are more boring than my room and that place is empty.” No response. I think after a while one of us silently offered him a beer, but we had an understanding.

Things were peaceful, we were coping.

Little Rob stood there for a while just watching. Hoping for something. Anything. And halfway through his beer he got an idea.

With great enthusiasm, he declared “That’s it! We’re having a party in the B’s! I’m going to the Shoppette for supplies. Be back soon.”

While Little Rob was gone a huge pizza order was delivered to our room that I did not remember anyone ordering but I had to chip in on.

To this day, I  still have a sneaky suspicion it was Little Rob getting the ball rolling but dodging the cost.

Anyways, not too long after the pizza showed up and was paid for Little Rob reappeared with ice, cups, potato chips, cookies, salsa and who knows what else. He also had a DVD in his hand.

We were conned, bamboozled and tricked into hanging out and making a boring quiet evening a bit more fun by interacting.

Little Rob was delighted.

Now that he had gotten us to move, interact and distract him from the barren wasteland of perpetual solitude that was his life one room over he saw that we’d probably agree to his next suggestion.

Little Rob had always wanted to watch Interview With A Vampire but had secretly always been too scared to watch it alone.

Our undersized and underpopulated room was just the setting to put him at ease enough to get through the movie.

So it, just kind of happened between pizza slices and a handful of potato chips he slipped his way over to the tv and put the DVD in.

We were getting full, everyone was happy. So we settled in to watch the movie.

I distinctly remember someone turning off the lights a couple of minutes in and Little Rob making a little fuss about it, but concluded he was squeezed into a room full of soldiers like a can of tuna.

As long as things stayed this way he’d be just fine and finally be able to watch this movie all the way through.

Keep in mind Vilseck is in the middle of nowhere with nothing more than German wildlife (wild boar, hedgehogs, oversized ferrets) and the bizarre effects of a weather machine set to “Awful” to see.

With a few buildings for housing, offices and essential shopping there is not much to see or do out there which means weather permitting, you see a lot of wildlife on post.

With four dudes, pizza, and burps wafting it was inevitable that not too long after the movie started someone needed to crack a window, which did make things better.

Things were going well.

Then, at about the halfway point a bat flew in through the window of our unlit room.

The yelling, knocking over and shoving of furniture. It was hilarious.

Hilarious, and more than Little Rob could take, he jumped up screaming like a little girl and smacked right into a wall.

One of the first phrases you’ll learn living in Germany is Fenster zu machen or a variation of that like mach das Fenster zu which simply means close the window.

Germans say it and say it often.

It most likely has something to do with this country’s fetish with avoiding drafts or any other form of moving air while indoors. The Luftzug will kill you, or worse. An Oma could trap you into an hours long warning of the dangers of the Luftzug.

That would make sense and sound logical, not all things people claim to be logisch make any sense.

If this story bored you enjoy these pictures of the pretty autumn leaves in my neighborhood, enjoy it while you can because the trees are losing their leaves so fast now it’s shocking.

Following that line of reason I think we can all agree the lesson in all of this is don’t watch anything about animals with your window open in Germany.

Richard Dawkins has an interesting story about how Great Tits taught other species of birds how to steal milk.

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American expat in Germany, novice blogger, amateur artist, rehabilitated couch potato, smartphone addict, full-time father, husband and terminal nerd.

JDWOODYARD

American expat in Germany, novice blogger, amateur artist, rehabilitated couch potato, smartphone addict, full-time father, husband and terminal nerd.

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