Monday, February 6, 2012

Off to the Races

Someone mentioned this story to me the other day, and I was so happy because I'd completely forgotten how much fun it was to write. "The Goofy Sport of Pigeon Racing"...

“How about 1021, Chameron?” Dave asks. “That one come in for you?”

Chameron looks down at the page and comes up with the bird’s showing, airspeed and distance traveled for the last race, while Dave plucks a bird out one of the cages and holds it up for inspection. He flips it upside down and checks the bird’s belly, unfolds a wing and runs his thumb over its plumage, then holds the bird up in order to peer into its eyes.

“I’m trying to see inside him,” he explains. “I know all these birds—I know what they are going to do, when they’re going to come in. These birds, they’re athletes. That’s what they are, so they get the best of everything.”

With that, Dave trots off to get some more peanuts or something (the pigeons are fed copious amounts of raw Spanish peanuts before each race to give them energy for the flight), and Chameron makes his final choices on which birds to enter in this week’s race.

Chameron’s been racing pigeons with his grandpa for something going on five years now. A couple years back, he raised a champion bird, which is the one that averages the fastest speed over a whole season’s worth of racing. Since he’s talking about the bird in past tense, I ask him where it is now.

“Died,” says Chameron matter-of-factly. “Probably got hit by a power pole or something. They die all the time.”