I often fantasize about what it would be like to have a time machine. Not necessarily to change history or anything like that, but to just be there and witness some of the cool things that have happened. Who wouldn’t want a front seat to the Battle of Waterloo, the destruction of the Berlin Wall or seeing Abraham Lincoln delivering the Gettysburg Address? It MIGHT be a little weird if I were in attendance at the dismantling of the Berlin Wall since I was actually alive at the time. But wouldn’t it be cool if I were there with 19-year-old me? Hmm, what would I tell 19-year-old me besides stay away from Everclear? Well, that’s another possible blog topic, isn’t it? 🙂
Meeting my past self and witnessing those things all seems kinda cool, but what I really want to do…besides tell George Michael NOT to write the holiday song “Last Christmas” and to tell Whitney Houston to stay away from Bobby Brown? What I really want to do is sing to a bird. Yes, I want to go back in time to 1914 and sing the Beatles’ song “Martha, My Dear” to Martha, the last passenger pigeon on Earth – on her last day on earth.
Martha the passenger pigeon in her Smithsonian exhibit. In 1974, Martha returned to the Cincinnati Zoological Gardens (where she resided until her death) for the dedication of a new building named in her honor. Both times she was flown first class, with an airline flight attendant escorting her for the entire trip. Would you want to be the passenger getting bumped out of first class for a dead bird? LOL…
It wouldn’t be the first time I’ve spent quality time with an animal on their last day on earth. In 2010, I spent some time in my parents’ back yard with “Stampy,” whom was my parents’ cat for the past decade. He was going to be euthanized the next day, so I came over to spend some time in the back yard with him, letting him chatter at the birds with wild abandon, skulk around doing cat stuff, etc. Though he still had most of his cat “charms,” his body was failing on multiple levels – and as sad as it was, it was just his time to go. I previously used the name “Stampy” on one of my MySpace profiles (the one designated as my G-rated profile with mainly cat pictures and other things appropriate for showing to my young niece) and later carried that handle into Facebook. Until they made me change my name into something else (whatEVER…), but I digress! Let’s stick to the topic of dead animals, shall we?
Stampy the cat in this undated photo. He was polydactyl, which means he had more than the “usual” number of toes.
As for Martha, she lived in the Cincinnati Zoological Gardens her entire life. Passenger pigeons are not to be confused with the domesticated carrier pigeons, who used to carry bad-ass war messages tied to their legs, and were rumored to be in charge of the elite Nazi fighting group “Inglourious Basterds” (JK). As for Martha, as soon as she died, she was placed in a block of ice and her body was taken immediately to the Smithsonian, where it could be meticulously preserved – and subsequently gawked at by mostly disinterested snot-nosed kids on school field trips for decades. Maybe the slightly more interested kids used Instamatic cameras with the flash bars/bulbs to attempt to take photos of this dead, stuffed bird and show to their parents later. Let’s pretend you’re not a disinterested snot-nosed kid and want to learn a bit more about Martha and other passenger pigeons! If that’s the case, click here, and here. I’ll end this blog with some lyrics from “Martha, My Dear:”
Look what you’ve done
When you find yourself in the thick of it
Help yourself to a bit of what is all around you
Take a good look you’re bound to see
That you and me were meant to be
With each other