I always thought that if I go off the deep end, Ruth's route is the way I would want to go. She talks to birds and squirrels and tries to help them, none of them ever tell her that Freemasons rule the country or to take out her neighborhood bird store staff with weapons of mass destruction. Ruth is always worried about her non-migratory eastern wood peewees and she's always very sweet about it.
We continue to hear from her every fall. The latest is that the birds who are too old to fly are burrowing into the ground for the winter. This is actually based on a myth that swallows burrow into the wet mud in the fall and hibernate all winter. Ruth's peewees don't really hibernate but seem to kind of spend the winter huddled together eating, sleeping, sharing stories and educating Ruth. I once got a call from her court appointed attorney who asked if I was an expert on birds. I don't like to say I'm an expert, but I said I knew a fair amount about birds. She asked if birds like wood peewees burrow into the ground in the winter. I told her no, that wasn't true. She then got very cross and said, "Dammit, I spent three hours last week digging holes in a park looking for the darn birds with her."
Ruth hopes that someone besides her will see the peewees and comes up with elaborate plans with the birds. She says that the birds tell her they are incredibly shy and that's the reason why no one else has seen them in their burrows. At one point, she made some drawings to try and sell so she could get enough money to buy a motion sensitive night vision camera to get photos of the peewees when they come out of the burrows. The recent plan is that some peewees are thinking about allowing their winter burrows to be probed so that we can in fact see that they are there.
Though Ruth is committed she still manages to sneak out of her group home and navigate the Twin Cities bus system to get to peewees or other bird species in need. She once showed up at the store with brown paper bags loaded with peewees. After she left, the bags were inspected and found to have crumpled paper towels, newpapers and dried out baked goods. Last December I saw her show up at the Minnesota Ornithologists' Union Paper Session at the Bell Museum (for those that don't know, that's the big holiday party for hard core Minnesota birders, for some people it is as boring as it sounds, for hard core birders it's really cool and fun)--Ruth works hard to keep up with her bird knowledge.
We just got a call today from Ruth telling us that there are some bed ridden crows who are unable to join the others who roost along the west bank campus in the winter. Her psychic bird network has informed her that the peewees behind my store would be happy to take in the crows if someone will drive them out. Wood peewees and crows: sounds like it's going to be an exciting winter behind the bird store.