Over the past week or two I’ve noticed something going on outside my window. I’m very lucky, NYC apartment-wise. In a city filled with sounds of every imagining (usually loud), the vast majority of the sounds outside my window are bird-related. That’s because all of my windows face an enclosed courtyard. It’s a glorious oasis of bird song, punctuated by the occasional laughter of little kids playing, babbling water from a fountain in the warmer months, the occasional gardener blowing or mowing through machinery, and random acts of late night merrymaking when a weekend party moves outdoors.
So as I sit at my desk by the window and write, a bird often joins me, perched happily on my air conditioner. Usually solo, my feathered companion sits for a bit watching the goings on below, then flies off to some other pressing business. Lately however, my feathered friends have started showing up in pairs. One lands, then the other, and in a moment or two the dance l'amour commences. Seems my air conditioner has become the avian equivalent of the hourly rate motel. Usually it’s pigeons, but a few mourning doves, sparrows, and even an occasional squirrel chasing some fluffy tail have checked in. It’s a veritable porn playground on my Fedders! In broad daylight! You'd think they’d have the manners to do the nasty in private or at least under cover of darkness, maybe a few candles flickering, some Barry White gently playing in the background. But at 10 a.m., with an audience? It's like an episode of “Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom,” and I'm Marlin Perkins! I can imagine the voiceover now: “Jim will carefully turn the A.C. to low so we can study the effect of adding a vibration aspect to the mating zone, while we hover overhead in the copter and film the pre and post coupling behavior.” I think the birds are talking about my A.C. too. You know how you never see just one pigeon, there’s always a crowd? I think they are spreading the word: “Hey, you and your lady friend need a place to get busy? I know a great air conditioner with a view in West Chelsea.”
What I find most puzzling is not the fact that the birds outside are getting a lot of action. It is spring after all. But what is it about my A.C. that inspires them to do the horizontal hokey pokey right there? Surely there more romantic trysting spots in the courtyard. I’m up on the fifth floor for heaven's sake. They could fall off! Yet they continue to pick my A.C., as though it's the feathered brain’s equivalent of an airline bathroom and schtupping on it is their version of the ‘mile-high’ club. Maybe there's something in my karmic aura that promotes bird fertility. If so, perhaps I should invest in a couple of chickens. Fresh eggs right outside of my window would be awfully convenient. Economical too.
Ah well, whatever it is, let them have at it. Far be it from me to stifle their birdie lust. After all, the end result is more birdsong to enjoy at dawn and dusk. So here’s to the circle of life. Hakuna matata!
I love spring. The days get longer, the weather warmer, and the markets start to shake off the winter doldrums as brighter greener fare abounds. A favorite of mine in the spring is peas. And even though it’s still a little early for the fresh ones at the farmer’s market, a recent warm sunny day brought a hankering for something featuring these sweet green babies. My Spring Pea Soup was the result. Extremely simple and quick, it can be served hot or chilled depending upon the changeable weather and moods spring brings. Serve it up with some of crusty bread or Lemon Currant Scones, add a little goat cheese or brie (or better yet, goat brie) with a drizzle of honey, and you have the perfect lunch/brunch to welcome the season!
Spring Pea Soup
Makes about 6 cups
1/3 cup chopped shallots (about 2 shallots)
1 tsp each butter and olive oil
6 ½ ounces potato, peeled and cubed (about ½ a large russet)
4 cups chicken stock
1 cup water
2 cups frozen petite peas
½ TBSP lemon zest (from a small lemon)