The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

October 1, 2011

MICHELE M. BENDER | The flock is filched

Michele M. Bender
For The Tribune-Democrat

— “It’s probably time to put the yard flamingos away,” suggested my friend Leanne.

“Aw, let’s wait ’til October,” I whined.

The end of pink flamingo season signals the end of summer. Autumn, while beautiful, heralds the onset of winter – not my favorite season.

I grew up in the ‘50s, when fake flamingos frolicked everywhere. Perching in gardens, bouncing on beach bags and decorating shower curtains, flamingos tickled me “pink.”

A while back, I forgot to bring them in prior to hanging my Frankenstein windsock for Halloween. Frank and the flamingos together sent a disturbingly mixed message.

One summer, I stood 27 flamingos in my backyard. However, I restrained myself and conservatively placed only two out front.

My taste has always been primarily in my mouth.

That summer, flamingo felons filched one of my pink plastic pals from my front lawn. Her sad mate hovered by the shrubs, alone and forlorn.

I reported the theft to the police. I explained that I didn’t expect officers to recover my dollar store lawn ornament.

But neighbors had begun seasonal decorating. Flags, expensive porch furniture and colorful patio umbrellas had sprouted with spring’s first breeze.

If thieves or vandals were afoot, I believed the police should know.

I also never expected the “fuzz” to broadcast that item over their emergency channel! A buddy with a scanner told me about it a day later.

“APB! Grand Theft Flamingo!”

I eventually put that flamingo fiasco behind me.

Now, I have caved in to nature. Leanne gently carried my precious pink birds to the basement.

When she dropped by the following week, Leanne looked puzzled. “Did you put the flamingos back out?”

“No. Why?”

“Because there’s another pair out front again,” she explained.

We both looked.

Two new, bright, Pepto-colored birds nested by the driveway.

Their aluminum legs were super-glued to their bodies, a really swell idea I wished I’d thought of years ago.

Clearly, someone had given me orphaned flamingos.

Had crooks with guilty consciences snuck back to make restitution for the bird that flew the coop three summers before?

Did someone select me as a flamingo foster-parent?

The mystery remains unsolved.

My friend Sharon in Harrisburg called that weekend. I told her about the rosy new arrivals.

“C’mon, Michele,” she laughed.

“If I was a homeless plastic yard flamingo, your house is the first place I’d go to roost, too!”

My foundling fowls are now hibernating in the cellar with the rest of my flamboyant family flock.

I’ll stop now.

Michele Mikesic Bender is a Johnstown resident and a member of The Tribune-Democrat’s Reader Advisory Committee.

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