Who Brings Baby Storks?

     This sort of thing used to depress me no end.  Selling unused baby books was sometimes entertaining, as one glanced at the sorts of things the publisher thought you would want to record forever, plus the odd illustrations they added to the pages.  Those that were filled in, however, were depressing.  Was no one left to care that on May 12, 1919, little Bopsy Brown was born and weighed 7 pounds, 15 ounces?

     I now understand, if not accept, that this is simply the Circle of Life.  Yes, little Bopsy is gone to the Great Golden Ultimately, all his close relatives have followed, and, yes, we now have no one left on earth who gives a one cent stamp about it.  That is the way of things.  All anyone cares about is whether the picture of the baby is cute or the stork is entertaining.

     A LOT of birth announcement postcards include storks, birds which come in a variety of shapes and heights.

     As we can see from this baby congratulation card.  If you see a stork on a postcard, there is a baby somewhere within earshot.

     Even if we go back to discussing the role of stork as stalker.

     Or is that storker?

     The number of storks on postcards did make me wonder about the whole cliché.  It would probably take an art historian and a few hundred hours of searching to find out who decided how storks should carry babies.

     These methods vary on postcards, depending on what the artist thought was useful.  (Did you notice that one above where the baby is actually in the doctor’s little black bag?  Doctors kept storks around on a regular basis in those days, I guess.)

       But I did wonder if, with the whole of the Interwebs at hand, I could answer the question: why storks?  Why did we not invent a Baby Fairy to bring babies, or a saint, or, though Easter may have claimed him first, a logical animal like a rabbit?

     Well, bacon-wrapped bubble gum, the fact is that the Interwebs likes to confuse us, and to provide a forum for all those ingenious scholars who make up their data.  Storks bring babies because people noticed they were very kind (for birds) to their own offspring (the story that, in times of famine, they will rip open their chests and feed the babies on their own life’s blood is just storkfeathers, apparently.)  They were also believed to be monogamous, which kind of depends on the species of stork and how you define monogamy.  (And what does monogamy really have to do with having babies?)

     But wait.  Other people claim the stork got the job because stork nests are often found in large cities, where there are lots of babies.  OR because storks like to nest in chimneys, which, as Santa Claus may have told them, is an excellent way to deliver things.  OR because storks generally migrate north in March, when almost everybody is having their babies (all those June weddings(, people figured they were coming north with little gift packages.

     OE it’s because the stork has a vast white wingspan, making people think of angels.  OR it’s because among the ancient Egyptians, a stork represented the soul, and every new baby needed one of those.  OR in ancient Greek mythology, the goddess Hera, furious at finding her husband had had another baby by a human woman, turned the woman into a stork and kept the baby herself, leading the stork to try to steal the baby back, thus establishing that storks carry babies and…some spoilsport anthropologist came around and explained that the bird in this story was a crane, not a stork (even Aesop could tell the difference, and he was blind.)  Some people feel that Egyptian soul bird was a crane, too. 

     I mentioned all of this to one of my long-suffering friends, who suggested that it’s because the stork has such a large bill, which means it is practically engineered for lifting and carrying things.

     When I said “But that would really require a crane,” they changed the subject.  Some people can be as helpful as the Interwebs.

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