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Tuesday, June 21

taking flight

It was a peaceful Sunday morning and I was taking a break from the studio when Russell dashed into the house and told me to come outside, hurry up, I would like it.

Now, with Russell, this could be anything from a new bud on a tree to an unusual cloud formation to a funny license plate. I went anyway.

He motioned me across the street to a bush in front of the apartment building and there, crouching under the lowest branches, was a bird. Either a hawk or a falcon. Young. He had been hopping around on the grass when Russell first saw him but the combined interest of the neighbors and a couple of their cats had driven him under the bush. He still had some baby fuzz peeking out from his feathers and he peered at us from large, round eyes. I don't think he was pleased. He raised his wings slowly but went nowhere. Eventually he escaped our well meaning presence by flying low and clumsily across the street and under a car where he commenced to crying pitifully. It killed me. I knew he was calling his mother.

Well now, what to do?

By now we had the attention of some of the folks in the building as well as our neighbor friends and a conference ensued. What to do? He didn't seem to be able to launch himself into the air from the ground. What if he stayed under the car until someone drove over him? It was decided a rescue was necessary. Tara got a cat carrier, Jo and I started calling every place we could think of, Russell gently pulled the little guy from under the car and put him in the carrier.

Nobody was in. It was Sunday. We left messages. We waited. Tara kept checking the carrier which was on her porch, in the shade. How is he, we would ask and she would shake her head sadly. Not great.

FInally we got the SPCA emergency wildlife number, actually talked to someone and we were told to bring him down ASAP. Russell was elected to drive the rescue vehicle since I was to wait for the painter we had hired and the others had kids and things.

I called him after a bit and he was in and he said the SPCA person had pronounced the bird ( a Kestral Falcon as it turns out) healthy enough.

This news was shared with the neighborhood trauma team and I assumed that was the end of it. But when Russell came home he was toting the carrier and he informed me the bird was in it.

What? I didn't believe him, but it was true. He was told to bring the guy home (they estimated he was about 6 weeks old) put him up high somewhere so his Mom could find him and he would be fine. They assured Russell that in a battle with cats, he was sure to be OK. So, up the stairs he went and onto our upper porch and over the railing to the very edge. He opened the carrier, lifted the bird gently and stooped to put him on the roof.

And then, as Russell tells it with joy, he soared. Soared! Up and over the trees and back across the street where we all believe his Mom was pacing, waiting, watching for him.

It was a good morning and we were all happy and proud and we went back about our business. But it stayed with me.

Then it dawned one me that this is how people really are. This is what a society is. People who watch and care and act. People who sacrifice something to do good. This is a neighborhood. Men and women gathering on the sidewalk, discussing options, making calls, checking the internet, posting on facebook about what to do. Community.

I can't help but wonder at what level we lose this. When do a half dozen barefoot city dwellers, wearing jammy pants and pulling out cell phones to help a bird become politicians who bicker over whether their fellow human beings should be given health care or be allowed to marry the person they love? When does that natural instinct to give a shit go away?

I'm talking to you, Washington. Get over yourself, get down on your knees and pull us out from under the car. You will feel really, really good.


JudyOlson said...

This is what blogging is all about, you are precious. Thank you.

Tara said...

I can't say enough about how fabulous this post is. YES. The bird, the government, all of it. I was just using one of your books I got at the Syracuse Arts and Crafts festival and thought I'd pop over to your blog. :)