Halligan’s is an Irish pub near my house. I‘ve been there a few times and I like it for several reasons. First of all, the food is delicious. My favorite dish is the chicken boxty. Chicken boxty is chicken, mushrooms and spinach over a potato cake in mouthwatering cream sauce. It’s to die for. Halligan’s also has an assortment of beer and they have a great outdoor seating area that faces a man-made pond surrounded by birds. There is a very large crane that hangs out around that pond.
One of the great things about living in NC is that we have sporadic spring days in the middle of winter. It can be 30 degrees one day and two days later it will be in the 70’s. A few days later, it might be freezing again. When random spring happens, we all head outside; we go for walks, ride down to the beach or sit on a patio somewhere having dinner and drinks with friends. If you don’t watch it, the fluctuating weather will make you sick, but it’s usually worth it.
One spring day in winter, I met a friend at Halligan’s. We sat on the patio and ordered food and beer. I can’t remember what kind of beer I ordered that day, but it was probably something like Blue Moon or Bud Lite Lime (don’t laugh, they’re very tasty) or a cider because those are what I usually drink. Or a ginger beer. It could have been a ginger beer.
After ordering, I sat talking with my friend. As we caught up, I noticed a fly buzzing around my glass. I waived it away but it kept coming back. I had only had a couple of sips when I noticed the fly in my beer, flailing and fighting for his life. I sighed. “I can’t drink this now,” I said then wondered what to do with the fly. On any other day, you could have handed me a swatter and I might have flattened him, but on this spring winter day, as he scrambled for his life in my glass, it just seemed senseless to watch him drown. At least when they get flattened, it’s like they died in battle. There’s no dignity in drowning in wimpy beer. I picked up the glass and walked to the edge of the patio. I poured the fly onto the grass and watched him lay there in the sun. When I returned, the waitress was at the table with my friend.
“I decided to try to save a fly’s life, if you can believe that,” I said, “but I think he’s going to die, anyway. He’s not moving”.
“He’s probably too drunk to move,” laughed the waitress.
“Maybe he has alcohol poisoning,” I said.
“I’ll get you another one.”
She took my empty glass and returned with a fresh beer. My friend and I sat on the patio and finished our food and drinks. “Let’s walk over to the pond before we leave”, said my friend, “maybe we’ll see that crane or some turtles”.
There is a little bridge that crosses the pond. As we headed for the bridge, we saw a row of white coastal birds sitting on the rails. At the time, I thought they might be herons, but after a little research, which consisted of me googling on my phone, I convinced myself that they were a type of bird called white ibis. We crept very slowly toward the bridge so that we would not scare the ibis. I was able to take a few pictures of them as we moved closer, but eventually they moved away from us.
We were not alone for long, however. A group of Canadian geese on the far end of the pond noticed us, probably noticed my friend’s to go box, and started swimming and honking their way across the pond. One fat goose, in particular, acted like he’d never eaten a meal in his life. My friend succumbed to the pressure and pulled some bread from the to go box. We pulled off just a little bit of bread and threw it in the water, but we quickly realized that the fat one was a bully who ran off the other birds and gobbled up all the bread for himself. Survival of the fittest. We devised a plan to throw a decoy piece one way for the chubby goose then throw another piece the other way for the other birds. Once we felt they had been given an adequate snack, we closed the box. Some kids appeared on the other side of the pond and the geese quickly kicked us to the curb.
As they swam away, I marveled at the day, at how the sun reflected off the water and reflected the images of the geese onto the water. I felt so blessed for being able to take advantage of the day.
Since that encounter, I’ve read that you aren’t supposed to feed bread to the birds. That’s a bummer. I guess in the future, I’ll have to keep the bread to myself. It’s going to be really hard to say no.