My Escort out of Town

I had a vivid experience last Monday that has yet to leave my mind. Last weekend a sudden opportunity came up for Judy to do a film shoot for Pelican Dreams, her new documentary. She had to go to Ventura in Southern California, and I offered to  share the driving. I dropped her off at the dock (she was to spend two days on a boat) and then I drove to Sierra Madre, which is the town just east of Pasadena. A friend had kindly offered to let me use her cabin for the two days I was to spend waiting for Judy to return to shore.

Sierra Madre is right up against the San Gabriel Mountains, and in the San Gabriel Valley there is an enormous parrot flock. There are thousands of them, mostly red-fronted Amazons. It has to be the largest wild parrot flock in the United States. I was told that I would probably see some of them in Sierra Madre, and I did, very early the first morning. Typically, I heard them first, then saw them in the distance in silhouette. Fifteen minutes later I saw three or four about a block away. They were in the sun, which lit up their beautiful green backs and wings as they flew from tree to tree. Throughout my two-day stay in Sierra Madre I would occasionally hear them, but I didn’t seek them out. As much as I love wild parrots, my main concern right now is my new book. I was focused on my work.

Monday morning, I got in the car and headed back to Ventura to pick up Judy. I was driving down 210 in the right lane when I looked to my right and saw at car-top level a red-fronted amazon flying in tandem with me. I watched him for a few seconds, and just before I reached the Pasadena city limits sign, he flew up and over the freeway and disappeared.

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11 Responses to “My Escort out of Town”

  1. Linda Fairchild Says:

    well, as you always say, “the parrots do that”…and it can be quite tricky escaping the pressure of Southern California without an experienced escort.

  2. Brad Says:

    Great story, Mark. We might be on opposite ends in politics, but we see the same thing in these amazing creatures. We may differ in how to get there, but in the end, we both want Freedom…..And in America we can still disagree and walk away friends….No differently than these beautiful birds….

    • markbittner Says:

      Yes. We can still disagree and walk away friends. That’s really important.

    • Linda Fairchild Says:

      No differently “from” not than…we are losing some precision around grammar and language in America. like your post.

      I always tell people one of the things I enjoy so much about Mark as writer, communicator is that he never uses filler words, no ums, like, you know. All his thoughts are precise and thoughtful.

      the parrots are the same, they notice and the lead B-52 was the escort out.

  3. Chandani Diaz Says:

    The “parrots” will always be part of your lives. In Hindi we call it “kismat” (I believe kismet is the English term). You will find them everywhere because it is your destiny to notice them. Possibly, hundreds of thousands of others were at that same place and failed to notice.

    • markbittner Says:

      There is obviously something to this. There are other stories—one in particular—that I will eventually get around to telling.

  4. Karin/wildflower Says:

    Dear Mark…I love this story. There is a magic to our relationship with birds and I see it often. Just the other day on a beautiful trail in Sonoma County, a bicyclist yelled something as he raced past me in the opposite direction. As I turned to watch him disappear, a large hawk veered down the trail corridor past me and almost hit him on the helmet. Seeing the bird as such close range, wings wide and straight, he looked huge and then watching him fly at my neighbor was actually shocking! The hawk kept a straight course directly in front of the bicyclist for maximum visibility it seemed. I was amazed and somehow felt the gods were on my side for that moment.

  5. JB Says:

    They have escorted me out of bed in the morning on several occasions in Pasadena…they make quite the alarm clock!

    • markbittner Says:

      I kept thinking on the drive back home that I should have looked you up. I didn’t know you were in Pasadena proper, but I knew you were nearby. Next time—and there could be a next time for me in Sierra Madre—I will.

    • JB Says:

      Please do! I’m actually in Altadena now, but it’s close enough (just north). I heard them much more in Pasadena when I lived there.

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