“It’s for the birds,” is something my Dad used to say. “Who needs it,” he would grunt, flicking his hand like swatting a fly.
Sorry Dad, I disagree. For example, birds could be the world’s best experts on taking a glorious bath, and who doesn’t need that at home right now.
Me: I’m taking a bath.
Him: You’ll use all the hot water.
Me: I’ll fill the tub half way, then you go next.
Him: Nobody will be happy.
As we find ourselves hanging out in our backyards, streets, front stoops to get a respite from being stuck inside, take a page from the inspiring, resilient, entertaining birds. They’re showing us when the going gets tough, the tough get dunked.
Just go outside and watch. If you don’t have a birdbath, go make one if you can out of any big saucer, a couple of bricks underneath, and about 2 1/2 inches of water. Think low, safe, shallow, shady. Then prepare to get a lesson on how to stay sane and compromise.
One fat-breasted robin sits on the side of my birdbath waiting its turn, while the other is fluffing and preening every inch of its downy arms and pointy bottom in a rollicking riot of feathers and spray.
Then it flies away to give the other one a chance.
Me: What if I fill the tub all the way and you dunk in with me?
Him: Not enough room.
Me: We can sing Louie Armstrong’s classic “Birds do it, bees do it . . . “
Him: Have fun.
Opinions on bathing have changed over the years, over the centuries. It’s good for your skin, it’s bad for your skin. You can take a bath daily, you better make it weekly or your skin could fall off.
Birds have their own ideas. They’ve always been splashing to keep their feathers in tip top flying shape. Bathing is so essential to their wings, they even wait in line with an enemy. No matter what, they need to wash off whatever is holding them down.
Can we relate?
These days most agree a bath -- riotous or not -- relaxes the muscles, improves blood flow, lowers blood sugar, is actually good for the skin, is great for respiratory symptoms and we hope you don’t need that, and easily beats the shower for soothing your nerves.
And you can’t slip because you’re already lying down.
Me: How about if you come in after me, I’ll keep the tub full.
Him: It’ll be dirty.
Me: Experts say the dirt moves to the bottom of the tub. Besides, how dirty am I?
Him: You’ve been in the muddy garden all day trying to get out of the house.
Me: Good point. You first.
Should you take a bath morning or night? All those opinions again, six of one, half a dozen of the other -- like a bunch of blue jays in a tree cackling and complaining and comparing while they wait their turn at the water hole.
The answer is, just take one anytime and see -- like the feisty, hopeful birds -- if you don’t operate better.
Just see if a wetting of the wings, a fluffing of the feathers, even a bit of riotous abandon -- helps you better sing your morning or evening song, Louie Armstrong or not.
Or better yet, in these anxious times, try another classic from Fred Astaire nearly a hundred years ago: “I pick myself up/Dust myself off/Start all over again.”