A BIRD IN THE HAND

Our life here at the homestead is usually uneventful. But when something happens, it always turns into a saga. The latest unfolded on a seemingly uneventful morning. As usual, Charlie was hard at work communicating with 2000 of his closest friends on the computer. I was engaged in my usual activity for the early morning: drinking coffee in my PJ’s and reading the paper.

Suddenly, we both noticed an odd thing: our five cats were lined up in front of the glass fireplace doors, mesmerized, looking just like five guys at a bar watching Monday Night Football on the big screen. “OH MY GOD, THERE IS SOMETHING IN THERE!” I exclaimed. Charlie then assumed a position behind the cats, and peered in. “I think it is a small animal of some kind, maybe a raccoon.”

I assumed a position behind the cats and Charlie. IT MOVED. In my fright, I goosed Charlie, who stumbled forward. As we jostled about, spilling coffee and stubbing our toes on the decorative stonework around the hearth, we both realized that the animal in question was a little bird. A darling little sparrow.

“He can’t fly back up the chimney! How will he get out?” I wailed. As calm as ever, Charlie pragmatically answered, “When he dies in there, then I can get him out.”

“WHAT? You CAN’T let that poor little thing DIE! We have to get him out!”

Charlie pointed out the obvious. Getting the bird out would most certainly entail his death anyway, with five lethal felines just waiting for the moment to strike as soon as the glass fireplace doors opened. So we spent fifteen minutes chasing cats, capturing them, and locking them in the basement.

Back to the fireplace. ME: “Can we just reach in there and get him?” CHARLIE: “Are you kidding? As soon as we open the doors, he will fly out and we will never catch him.” ME: “Then let’s get the cats back in here. They won’t let him get far!” CHARLIE: “Are you an idiot? I thought you didn’t want the bird to die!”

Next idea. Armed with duct tape and a large garden and leaf bag, we affixed the bag tightly around the entire fireplace opening with the tape. Genius! We then managed to pry the glass doors open without disturbing the bag. And we waited. After ten minutes, it dawned on us that sparrows are not stupid enough to fly into black bags.

Back to square one. CHARLIE: “Get the cats out here. Let’s let them catch it, and then we can snatch it from them.” ME: “Who will be the snatcher?” The answer was obvious. I put on gloves, long sleeves for pecking protection, and let the cats out. We had a moment of silence, and then ripped off the trash bag.

I opened the door. The little bird, scared out of his mind, stared at me, and I at him. Suddenly, he made a break for it, and I grabbed him. The gloves came up empty. Before I could even register surprise, chaos ensued! Charlie, who never let go of his coffee cup during the entire proceedings, gestured wildly with said cup, flinging coffee all over the rug. I dashed wildly about, but the bird landed on the top of the armoire next to the sofa.

But our intrepid Bengal cat Salami (that is ANOTHER story) reverted to the wild at that very moment! Faster than a speeding cheetah, he LEAPT from the floor to the top of the armoire in a single bound. The bird was in Salami’s jaws!

Fast, fast, fast—I shook off the gloves, ran down the front hall after the cat, turned right into the TV room, emerged back into the living room. I was panting, sweating, and swearing. Charlie watched in amazement as I deftly grabbed the cat. Rushing to Charl, holding the cat at arm’s length, I shouted, “GET THE BIRD, GET THE BIRD, BEFORE HE DROPS IT!!”

Charlie, whose reaction time was never fast, even before he had a stroke, remained holding his empty coffee mug. He seemed stunned. So I had to revert to the wild myself! The cavewoman in me came out, and I swung the cat around, pinned him to the handwoven antique Persian rug my mother-in-law gave me, and with ONE GLOVELESS HAND, snatched the hapless bird. Running towards the front door, shrieking, brought Charlie to his senses, and he rushed to open it.

SUCCESS. I flung the bird to freedom. Relieved, I sank into a chair. Charlie looked at me with undisguised admiration. He gazed at me for a few moments, and then asked the question:

“How do you think she got in there in the first place? Do you suppose there is a nest up there?”

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