So what’s up with the pink flamingo, you ask?
A while back my assistant Denise and I were discussing blog topics that related to the kind of stories and characters I enjoy writing. While pondering our conversation, I experienced a flashback from my childhood.
When I was a kid, my bedroom was upstairs at the front of our house. There were four large windows and I had a clear view of our neighbors’ homes. A really old lady lived across the street and every summer she’d stick three plastic flamingos in her front yard. I thought they were pretty and I asked my mother why we didn’t have flamingos in our yard. Mom rolled her eyes and said, “Flamingos belong in Florida not Wisconsin.”
I loved my mother, but I decided we’d just have to disagree about flamingos. My love for the pink long necks hasn’t changed since my youth and on occasion I reference the birds in my books. However, it wasn’t until now—decades later after my chat with Denise—that I made the connection between my love of flamingos and the older characters I write about in my stories.
Flamingos represent the importance of emotions and their free expression. Old people tell it like it is and don’t spare your feelings.
Community and Cooperation
Flamingos live in large colonies and old people live in retirement communities or nursing homes. Flamingos are social creatures and they look out for each other. Old people enjoy being part of a group where they feel safe and protected.
Flamingos are known for being chatty. Old people love to get up in your business and they’ll carry on a conversation with anyone.
Flamingos care deeply for their partner and their young. If you look beneath the surface of a crotchety old man or woman, you’ll discover a caring person.
Cultural and Spiritual Symbolism
In Peru, Flamingos are believed to be scared birds that are the heroes, or saviors in stories. One of the benefits of growing old is gaining wisdom and sharing that insight with the younger generation.
Flamingo Fun Facts
The pink flamingo lawn ornament was invented in 1957 by Don Featherstone. The fresh-out-of-art-school sculptor had been hired to create 3D plastic lawn and garden ornaments for Union Products in Leominster, Massachusetts. He modeled his prototypes after photos he'd seen in National Geographic.
Plastic flamingos were popular with working-class homeowners but in the 1960s,hippies protested anything mass-produced and “unnatural” so the pink yard decorations became known as trashy and cheap.
The pink lawn flamingo has been the official bird of Madison, Wisconsin, since 2009 when the city council voted to honor the plastic novelties in observance of the 30th anniversary of a 1979 University of Wisconsin Madison stunt in which students covered the campus's Bascom Hill with 1,000 bright pink birds.
A flamingo appearing in your life might be teaching you to socialize more and to take time to have fun.And boy howdy do the old timers in my stories know how to have fun!
Old-timers have made a lifetime of mistakes, survived disappointments, tragedies, and have the scars to prove it. Their sass and uncensored speech as well as unconditional love make them great secondary characters in stories, providing humor as well as teaching us life lessons.
For a chance to win a signed copy of my women’s fiction novel, The Future She Left Behind, which is full of quirky old people, tell me if you’re a pink flamingo lover or if you think the tall plastic birds ought to be outlawed on front lawns. Leave your answer on this blog post at https://www.marinthomas.com/blog. I’ll announce the winner in the comment section of this blog on Sunday September 9th and email the winner that day!
Until the next time we flamingle...stay well!