I have another bird story for you. More recent and just as poignant as the last. Knock on wood.
It all started on Friday when Erica dropped by for a short visit. As she was leaving, we noticed a bird flapping around near the ceiling of the garage.
It looks like a woodpecker, I said. Not your classic Woody look, but although I'm no stripe of an ornithologist -- I can barely spell that -- something about him spoke woodpecker to me.
And recently, we have heard the rapid drilling sound of woodpeckers in our neighborhood which is replete with thousands of the longleaf pines favored by the species.
(I even mentioned it to Dagny as we strolled outside one day: A woodpecker's loud activity sounded in the distance and I asked her if she heard it. Pre-verbal as Dagny may be, I believe she did.)
This happens from time to time: A bird flies into our two-car garage and, despite the single massive door being open, wide open, the outdoors beckoning only feet away, the bird cannot figure out how to escape.
They fly frantically from high shelves to a windowsill to the door opener, refusing to go down a few inches and out to freedom.
You can't talk reason into them either. Believe me; I have tried. They do not listen. Catching them is also out of the question. You can't get close enough to salt the tail.
So it was that on Friday, after Erica left, I closed and opened the garage door a few times, hoping that Bird would pay attention, read the memo, and fly out.
Then I decided to open the back door to the garage, which pass-through leads to our pool area.
My thinking was, there will be a cross draft and he will sense that, and he will see that there is not one, but two routes of egress to his sky and his trees, his nest and his loved ones, food and water.
I got busy then, with supper and whatnot, and TG came home, and I don't know why -- because I routinely begin spinning yarns the moment I see TG at the end of the day -- but I did not mention Bird.
Later I noticed that both the garage door and the back entrance were closed. I opened the door from the kitchen into the garage and looked all around for Bird.
Not seeing him, I assumed he'd seen the light and resumed his normal avian lifestyle. Checked out with as little fuss as he'd checked in.
On Saturday morning I was home alone and in a different part of the house than the kitchen, when I heard a scratching noise coming from that direction.
I knew it wasn't Javier because he was spending the weekend with Erica.
The noise was loud enough that I went looking for what might have been the source. I found nothing to explain it.
In the early afternoon Audrey and Dagny dropped by. Having opened the garage door using the outdoor keypad and entered the house through the kitchen, Audrey said: There's something out here that you need to see.
I trotted up there and what do you think I saw? Bird.
He had wedged himself into the corner of the threshold at the kitchen door, and had fluffed his lovely shining white-speckled black feathers all out and hidden his beautiful little red-tufted head in their depths.
Audrey thought he was being cute but she didn't know the story. I knew he was in trouble. Listing near to the scuppers, as it were.
I ran for my kitchen gloves and put them on my hands. I lifted Bird from the cold drafty threshold. He was still alive but he did not resist.
Out in the sunshine, Bird perched on my gloved fingers and became very alert. He seemed to enjoy the cool breeze in his feathers. I sent Audrey back inside for my camera.
Dagny, secure in her mother's arms, was speechless the whole time. All eyes.
Speaking of eyes, Bird's were bright. He looked all around, like he truly cared.
A hope sprang up in me that Bird would be okay; that he would take a breather then recover, spread his wings and fly from the gloves, merge onto the sunshine road, find a fast food joint, have a meal, resume his Bird Life.
But he didn't. Eventually I set him down gently onto the driveway. Once there, he appeared disheveled, despondent, listless.
I picked him back up again. Don't judge. Do not judge me. I was doing the best I could. In college I studied not birds, but English and History. And that was a long time ago.
We toted Bird out by the pool where there is a pan of water that's kept fresh for Javier.
I put Bird on the edge of the pan so maybe he could drink, because surely he was dehydrated. He clung there, stiff and awkward, striving unsuccessfully to gain is bearings. Then he flopped off.
I picked him up again and my plan was to carry him out to the part of the yard beyond a low retaining wall, where there was foliage and maybe he would have the strength to eat an insect which I hoped would be available.
But by the time I reached the wall and was looking for an appropriate spot to set Bird down, he expired.
He up and died! His feet curled like spidery fists and his eyes went dim and he was so still, I just knew.
I laid him out carefully on the retaining wall and although the sun shone bright on his still wings, it was cold.
Audrey and I talked about how we were glad to have been with Bird when he passed.
At least he wasn't alone, she said. Then: I have to put this kid down; my arms are breaking.
We all went inside. I got online and in no time had pegged the departed Bird as a red-cockaded woodpecker.
Later I fixed Bird up in a coffin lined with cotton. The black and silver box, which once held jewelry less pretty than Bird, had a hinged lid just like a real coffin.
I propped it open with a stick from one of the longleaf pines favored by the likes of Bird.
I viewed him briefly, admiring all he'd once been, and paid my respects.
Then, using an old serving spoon from the kitchen drawer, I dug him a grave in the soft reddish earth just beyond the retaining wall.
The stick was removed, the coffin lid closed. I placed it just so in the grave, then spooned the dirt back over Bird.
Using two more pine sticks and some green duct tape, I fashioned him a clumsy cross and made a sign: Bird.
I marked his spot and if you are still reading I am going to confess to you, I mourned Bird's passing.
The late winter sunset flamed the sky by then, glowing with the urgency befitting something with so little time to exist before the final fade.
I took a picture of that as I turned to go inside.
Another February was dying.
Later, a cold dismal rain fell on Bird's grave and I thought about that a lot, wishing things could have been different for Bird.
He was a good bird, a perfect and wonderful bird. I'm sorry he got trapped in our garage.
But: Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father. (Matthew 10:29)
God knew. He cared about Bird, His own creation, even more than I ever could.
His is a perfect plan, for all of creation.
And that is all for now.
Happy Monday ~ Happy Week ~ Happy March