Monday, June 10, 2013

The Buzzards Are Not Chartreuse

I didn’t go to summer camp as a kid. My brothers weren’t Boy Scouts. We didn’t do this sort of thing not because we lived in a tiny town tucked away from civilization, but because our mom is awesome.
Our mom is an early childhood specialist, and because of this, she knows all the awesome camp songs that we would have learned at summer camp, plus has more interesting crafts and games to fill up the hours than we would have ever done at camp. There was never really any need to go.
But everyone has a need for cookies. Specifically, Girl Scout cookies. So one year, we started a local troop. We sold cookies. We ate cookies. Then, we decided that we would round up all the girls and head off to a Girl Scout day camp.
All of us had a really good time. I vaguely remember doing a craft of some kind, and piling into a small cabin and “claiming” beds that we would never sleep in, since we were going home that evening instead of spending the night.
The best thing that happened that day was that my mother and I learned a new camp song, one we had never heard before, about buzzards sitting on a dead tree. We thought it was hilarious, and sang it over and over forever. We still sing it, even though that day at day camp was pretty much the end of my career as a Girl Scout.
My husband was an ultra Boy Scout. He attended all the meetings, knows how to cook anything in a dutch oven over an open fire, and knows all the songs. One afternoon, we were all headed somewhere in the car, and my mom and I were singing silly songs in the back seat. We, of course, busted out our “Buzzards” song from Daisy Day Camp.
Non-chartreuse non-buzzards
from the Disney wiki
“Three. Chartreuse. Buzzards,” we sang, “Sitting!!! Onadeadtree.”
My husband interrupted immediately. “It’s ‘sharp toothed’!!” he insisted.
My mother and I looked at one another and admitted that “Sharp toothed buzzards” does make more sense than “Chartreuse buzzards” which allowed the segue in conversation to discuss why a buzzard would be chartreuse in the first place and exactly what color chartreuse is.
Go look at how horrible the
color actually is on wikipedia
For years I was convinced that it was a dark green or navy color, based solely on the normal coloring of buzzards. Only, I had never encountered a buzzard before, and had assumed that they were similar to vultures, and my only exposure to vultures was Disney’s The Jungle Book.
My tiny mind would never have been able to process the fact that chartreuse was, in fact, halfway between green and yellow and had been named for a type of alcohol made in France. Crayola’s “green yellow” and “yellow green” were never on my top 10 list of favorite crayons, and even now, I want to look away when I see anything prominently chartreuse colored.
We love our song, and will still sing it the way we originally misheard it, no matter how many times my husband cringes and corrects us, even though the buzzards are not chartreuse.


  1. Well, maybe buzzards *should* be chartreuse.

  2. Here's the original 45 from 1965 by Jim Harris & the Sidewinders. Three Chartreuse Buzzards. Here's the song if you want to listen to it: The Buzzards are Chartreuse.