Elections in Newburyport, MA, Civic Engagement or For the Birds

Many people say to me, “you’ve got to get a pet” (usually they want me to get a dog).

At the moment my notion of having a “pet” is having astoundingly low maintenance pets. (And no the frogs do not count as pets. A) They are “hard working” political consultants for the Newburyport Blog; and B) they are either stuffed or made out of plastic.)

No, the “pets” that I have are birds.

In my “garden/ backyard/ green-stuff,” I have 2 Finch feeders and 2 birdbaths. I mean are we talking really low maintenance here or what??

And I’m even lazy when it comes to my “self-maintaining” bird “pets.”

(You may have noticed I’m chatting about, of all things, birds. This is because I have a severe case of “candidate mind mush.” In Saturday’s Newburyport Daily News, July 28, 2007, there is a list of all the people who are running as candidates in Newburyport, MA.

Count’em… At this point, (having pulled papers) there are 6 for mayor, 11 for Newburyport City Councilor at Large (good grief), 3 contested seats, Wards 2, 4 and 5, so add 6 more; and 7 who have pulled papers for Newburyport School Committee.

Being lousy at math, I actually got out my calculator. That’s count’em, 30 people running for office in Newburyport, MA. Yes, believe you me, I’m all for civic enthusiasm and involvement, but 30 people pulling out papers, creates a severe case of Newburyport mind mush for this blogger.)

I look at the birdbaths and say, “ok, ok, so, they need a little ‘freshening’. I promise, I’ll take care of it.”

And then I dump some water in the 2 bird baths. Major effort on my part.

The first one in… the Blue Jay. Gets right in there, in the middle of the bird bath, flaps around, and soaks himself so that he looks like Alfalfa after the rain. (Sort of the “my way or the highway” approach or the “assertive” or “intense” or “enthusiastic” approach, depending on your point of view of bird bathing.) (And wow, does this date me or what. Alfalfa was in “Our Gang,” black and white TV. We are talking millenniums ago.)

And then the sparrows come. They congregate together in the one of the trees above the bird bath. Chirp and chat. And then all land of on the perimeter of the bird bath and proceed to jump in together and take a communal bath. (The sort of cooperation, committee approach to bird bathing.)

And my favorites are the yellow finches (they are gorgeous). They chow down on the Finch food, seem to either be oblivious or arrogant or just plain old enjoying themselves, depending on your point of view, that the finch food is only for them. Flitter down to a bird bath, take a couple of delicate sips, and then proceed to fly away, or continue to peck away, looking over their backs, for some unknown reason to moi, as they go at it.

I’m not sure which political type that this would correlate to. The readers of the Newburyport Blog would just have to decide for themselves. (Spoiled and entitled? Confident? I don’t know.)

So, yes, at this point, we have 30 people running for contested seats for the Newburyport 2007 election. I’m not exactly sure what this means. Whether some of this is “for the birds,” or whether this is an indication that low and behold, some of the folks in Newburyport, MA have woken up from an apathetic stupor and are taking an engaged interest in our small, New England seacoast city. I’ll just have to think a little bit more on this one.

Mary Eaton