28 November 2009

Teddy Bears versus the Birds

Can a stuffed panda save the world from magpie devastation?

Magpies are considered good luck in Chinese tradition; they're harbingers of positive changes coming. That's great. I need all the good luck I can latch onto lately. I doubt it was a Chinese farmer who came up with that superstition, though.

At first we thought all the holes in our cabbage leaves were caused by snails, until one morning my wife looked outside and saw a black blanket of birds covering our mini-farm. After one loud hand clap, a hundred magpies lifted off and perched in surrounding trees, waiting for their next chance to attack. There are a lot of magpies around lately, and they make sure you know it. We don't need an alarm clock to wake us up in the morning.

Those little black and white birds may be pests, but they're also kind of cute. Maybe that's why Ah-Po is fighting cute with cute. Instead of using scarecrows, her farm looks like an execution ground for plush toys, as if warning avian intruders: "This could be you!" She has pandas, Hello Kitties, C3PO, Disney characters and several species of teddy bear, all gruesomely impaled on bamboo spikes or twisting in the breeze on nooses. It isn't a sight you'd want your five-year-old to see.

Where does she get all these toys? Does she snatch them out of the clasping arms of her own grandchildren? Ah-Po won't say. She claims they just kind of "show up". Maybe she's breeding them in a secret room, like factory farmed animals, raised for slaughter.

I actually believe that plush toys are capable of procreating. The 5000+ stuffed animals in my teenage daughter's room came from somewhere, and I sure didn't buy even a fraction of them. Yet every time I glance at her closet, there seems to be more adorable animals. Maybe we should put some of them to use protecting our food supply.

On the other hand, would you want your garden to look like a cutesy-wutesy slaughterhouse?


  1. Did you see this thing about the recycling magpies?

  2. It's like a Stephen King novel: cartoonist moves to bucolic island village and finds himself tormented by living incarnations of Heckel and Jeckel...

  3. Larry, this is my favorite post yet! It captures that 'alternate-universe' feel of life on Lantau, where the same innocent-looking creatures who clutter up closets here have another, more sinister job to do.