PARROTS WOOD by Erma J. Fisk


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In The Peacocks of Baboquivari (1983) septuagenarian Fisk offered a considerable amount of solid information concerning the netting, banding, tallying and measuring of birds in an Arizona valley amongst meditations on Widowhood, persons and places and the cosmos, and when she handed a new bird she was ""the luckiest widow in the world."" But what's this? Here is Fisk in the tiny principality of Belize on an ornithological expedition--in 28 days of bodily and considerable psychic discomfort. ""I have been banding birds too long, I am tired of it, I need a new career."" There's precious little about avian matters here, but plenty to learn about one person's feelings about being old, manless, and beset with severe family problems (never specified). Fisk does relate some earlier bird work--the problems in handling birds going for the red with beak and claw; mist nets; happy sightings; transects (a method of estimating bird populations); and lecture miscellany. But as Fisk soldiers on in the compound, in a welter of damp clothes, heat and primitive accommodations, she wrestles with the many doubts and miseries of an uncooperative body, painful memories of loss (her husband's death)--and after birding, whither? As for immortality and the Big D: ""What carries us through our days. . .is what life gives us. . .When we are gone the book is closed, it goes on a shelf."" It takes courage to be alone, ""to stand out in the round, hair tousled, stockings twisted to be seen and like--or disliked--for what you are."" She remembers friends and adventures in far places, and all the men, young and old, she's loved (platonically). Of course there was one True Love, but ""a woman does notice the men who walk in and out of her front door."" At the close, Fisk heads firmly for ""regeneration"" and hints of pastures new and the stir of challenge. Rambling, often testy, ruminations on the problems of aging with true grit, which nets a few bristly home truths.

Pub Date: Aug. 12th, 1985
ISBN: 0393305953
Publisher: Norton