Every day, around 1:15pm, a lady comes to feed seed to the pigeons on the jetty off S__________’s main promenade, close by the Hotel de __________.
Some pigeons, a majority, flock right in and peck about with undistracted purpose. But others behave differently, are cautious, or detached, or less applied to the task.
We spoke to one rather elegant, lilac-coloured collared dove, whom we had noticed was not amongst the waiting throng on the jetty at 1:10, but remained with a smaller group (the most of them the same breed) on a red-tiled roof on the southernmost end of the peach-painted hotel. When the seed-spreader arrived – this woman, we believe, heiress to an older Francisca we’d last year watched perform the flinging goodness – and, after an instructive introduction to a sandwiching cyclist relaxed on a bench and therefore about to be marooned, in a sandwich himself, twixt sea and ravenous winged maelstrom, began to scatter from her tartan’d trolley the golden maize, this timid creature (our noticed bird) remained aloft by the aerials. Eventually, and, we saw, twice, he took flight across the buffet, only to return without having landed below, to the same clay-tiled perch; the second return being a solitary venture, for all of his kind had either now joined the luncheon or moved away.
‘Not so hungry?’, we enquired, thrusting our boom and apparatus through an attic window in the Hotel de __________. For the benefit of our readers in America, parts of Canada, and the British Isles, the interview is reported here in English.
‘Starving, actually’, murmured our dove in reply.
‘Might we ask why you’re not lunching below with the others?’
‘I don’t enjoy the jostling. And there are some terrible birds down there.’
Hours later we were surprised to see this sensitive fellow pussy-footing about the chair and table legs of the café where we happened to be taking refreshments.
‘Hullo!’ we chirped, recognising his eye.
‘Oh, hullo’, he replied.
‘This more your thing, then?’
‘I suppose it is. Where my instinct meets my – ’
Alas, his words hung unfinished as a leather-skinned, smoking hag with a Marie Brizard and a bird aversion kicked out with her gold mule, and our complex acquaintance fled.
Words and picture © Steve Mitchell, Fisher Lane, 2013