Register Monday | June 24 | 2019

Making a list

Organization at its best

I've been making to-do lists lately, as a way of organizing my time now that I'm not just working all day every day with the occasional break for brunch.

My list yesterday was like this:

- finish clown-doctor article
- set up interviews for Mennonite article
- call tax office, figure out employment status
- call library school, see about becoming librarian
- call registrar, see about upgrading B.A.
- go for walk in park, figure out rest of life

All of which I did, except the 'figure out life' part, which is still, a whole day later, sitting accusingly undone.

What I did do at the park, though (this is High Park, for those of you familiar with Toronto) was to mince my way across the ice at the bottom of the valley, bike in tow, and look at the animals in the little zoo.

I'd never done that in the winter before, and I recommend it. The animals look great! They're all big, shaggy, winter-adapted guys, bison and llamas and mountain goats, and I realized that I'd only ever seen them in their miserable, moulting, fly-plagued, tourist-tormented summer state. But right now they're in their element! They're all nimble and glossy and responsive. If I stared at any one of them for too long, they'd start to act defensive, round up the little ones and point their horns at me (at which point I would tactfully move on - I'm not a monster). They had, like, self-esteem, if such a term is at all applicable to a bison.

And I saw a turkey! I was sure I'd seen turkeys before, but this one made such an impression on me that now I'm thinking maybe I hadn't. It was gigantic, as big around as a Pilates ball, and its head was flaming crimson, and it had purple eyes (although that might just have been a trick of the light.) And it was making noises.

The received idea is that turkeys go 'gobble-gobble-gobble', right? But that doesn't even come close to capturing the noises this bird was making - these mournful, musical liquid warbling noises, as it paced back and forth, staring at me. Watching it up close reminded me of what it had been like staring at a crocodile in a tank at the Toronto Zoo: this was an alien creature, a non-mammal, unfathomable.

It reminded me that birds are (probably) what dinosaurs turned into, which gave rise to two other thoughts:

1) Did some dinosaurs have flaming crimson heads and purple eyes, and did they warble?


2) My grandmother, the late Charlotte Kinsmen Banks, published a chapbook of devotional poetry just before her death a decade ago at 92 years of age. My favourite of her poems goes like this:

All praise to Him
Who took the herds
of thundering dinosaurs, and left
the birds.

Which is a pretty sassy repudiation of creationism for a Baptist minister's wife, if you ask me.