It's the first day of Spring!
What better way to celebrate than with a nice breakfast of buttered toast with honey, black olives, fried hellim cheese and a big mug of English Breakfast tea? Maybe... oh I don't know, paint portraits of pigeons?
As many of you know, I love pigeons. I find these overlooked and often despised birds to be beautiful and fascinating creatures. They have such marvellous shapes and colours— truly, is there anything more lovely than the heart-shaped curve of a pigeon's shoulders? I love watching the males twirling around in their silly, unappreciated mating dances, their tails fanned out like a matador's cape, charging unimpressed and fickle females. I love their gentle cooing as they snuggle up together on a branch or window ledge. Yes, I adore the pigeon, and have been honouring these humble birds in pencils, ink and paint, for a very long time.
I was thrilled to discover that Turks have a passion for pigeons as well. I have never seen such clean and healthy-looking pigeons in a city! Piles of stale bread scattered in grass or on the side of the road are a common sight, and birdseed sellers can be easily found along the Bosphorus walkway or in parks. If you examine the sides of buildings and the upper branches of trees, you might even see beautiful little houses constructed especially for these birds.
Once, as I was walking down Istiklal street, someone's yellow lab decided to take a bite out of a frightened pigeon he had been tormenting. Within seconds, people were scolding the dog's owner and forming a human barrier around the bird, and a woman swept its trembling little body into her arms and began whispering to it, as though trying to comfort a child. When I asked her if the pigeon was harmed, she told me she was taking it to the vet, and would care for it until it was well enough to fly away. Needless to say, this warmed my heart.
A couple of weeks ago, I walked by a colleague of mine's desk and noticed a bunch of pigeon pictures up on his computer screen. I let out an "Ooooh güvercinler!" at the sight of all the colourful birds, and he, caught off guard and perhaps a little embarrassed, fumbled to shut the browser window. After professing my love for pigeons, we clicked through picture after picture, and he wistfully told me about the pigeons he had as a child. Oh how I would have loved to have pigeons as a little girl! How wonderful that would have been— but the life of a nomad makes it hard to keep such pets.
Moved by his story, I thought I'd surprise my colleague with a couple of indoor pigeons that don't need to be fed or looked after.
I hope he'll like them.