Evy Warshawski, The Arts Landscape: The flamingo whisperer
The Arts Landscape

Evy Warshawski, The Arts Landscape: The flamingo whisperer

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Art project? Prank? Twenty-four hours of kitsch? Or were we “flocked”?

The mystery remains unsolved.

Last Thursday morning, I received this text from our next-door neighbor: “Did you place a bright orange plastic flamingo in our front yard?”

How fun, I thought, but no, we did not.

An hour later, I went outside and found two flamingos (cobalt blue and golden yellow) in our yard. I named them Fred and Ethel. On three front lawns, adjacent and across the street, stood three additional flamingos -deep purple, bright red and Kelly green. The color choice for each flamingo and its lawn were perfect complements to the colors of plants and surrounding flora on our block.

Throughout the morning, when neighbors appeared outside brave enough to leave sheltering in place, I asked each if they were the culprits. We knew it had to be dark when installation took place and yet no one heard or saw anything. There was only one neighbor I couldn’t query, and, given her playful, spunky personality, I was sure it was her. No such luck.

Even more curious was the fact that the flamingos had been placed only on the lawns of the five couples who attended a potluck at our house last summer. Was that coincidence or possibly a belated “thank you?”

We didn’t really care who had done it. We wanted to acknowledge the person(s) for putting a smile on our faces with an innocent gesture that brought us so much pleasure in these bizarre times.

And then, the next morning, all six flamingos were as mysteriously gone as when they had arrived. Again, no one saw or heard anything. It was as if our plastic visitors had never graced our homes. Could it be that their caretakers had planted them in new yards for their next 24-hour visit? Would this continue until someone could reveal these clever instigators?

We’re all familiar with the pink plastic flamingo that in the 1950s began showing up in everything from upholstery fabric, shower curtains and wallpaper to paint-by-number sets. They appeared on front lawns and gardens for decades and are now often used for fundraising “flocking” parties. (“Pat” is the correct name for a group of live flamingos described by “Science Daily” as “gregarious wading birds.”)

Full disclosure: We just happen to have a set of pink plastic flamingos in our front and backyards. They are old, fading and are barely visible through the tall plants growing around them. They’ve survived horrible winds, torrential rains, earthquakes and the indifferent cats that like to crawl through their steel “legs” looking for the catmint plant.

Just for fun, I’ve posted on Facebook and Nextdoor hoping that someone might be able to solve the appearance and disappearance of our mystery birds. Better yet, I hope you and your neighbors will have the pleasure of discovering these colorful plastic flamingos on your own lawns one morning.

Please say “hi” to Fred and Ethel for me, and enjoy them while you can.

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