Well, Hello Bird
A secret and seldom-used footpath worms its way deep into a cool forest of green. It is well-shaded back in the ancient hidden parts, and more hushed, so one hot afternoon I left the house to take a lone stroll there. City life can be so annoying at times.
At some point on this walk of solitude I came to a bend where ends of low branches extended out over the trail. I pushed one aside to pass when I heard a sharp chirping sound coming from somewhere. One more step forward, and after letting the branch go, another cheep broke the silence, followed quickly by one more. I paused there and stood motionless and listened.
All things kept still around me. Not even the limb swayed. Hardly a leaf trembled anywhere and not one blade of grass moved, but I heard the mystery cry again. One loud tweet, and yet its source eluded me. My eyes swept the area, shifting and searching for the maker of this sound.
Then I saw him. A young bird sat clinging to a tiny stick of a tree limb that grew at eye-level, less than ten feet away. The small creature glared at me as he opened his beak and squawked again. I had to laugh, but I refused to budge. He looked to be a passionate thing as he hung on to his perch; almost looking angry in a bird sort of way, and certainly demanding, according to his insistent tone and singular cry.
But I knew exactly what he was trying to say to me, so I spoke kindly.
“You are a hungry little bird, aren’t you?”
“I bet you are starving. So tell me, how long you been sitting up there and squalling like that.”
“Really? Well, pray tell, where is your momma and daddy at?”
Out of the corner of my eye I saw where the sun had managed to break through the treetops, and a luminous shaft of light exposed the flight of a happy grasshopper, which gave me an idea.
I know the secret to catching them, I thought to myself, just as the bird gave out another cry.
“Well, you fly over here and tell me about it then. Don’t sit there and complain.”
And I pointed to the ground at my feet.
I refuse to tell a lie -- I was more surprised to see him spread his baby wings and give one more raucous peep, then launch from his safe perch to sail through the air and unceremoniously crash-land mere inches away my toes than you might be when you find yourself believing any part of this wild claim I put before you. But it certainly happened.
That fluff of a bird then shook himself all around, and rearranged his young feathers with such haste that I could not help but think he wants to look presentable when he goes out to dine with the likes of me. I felt I should respect such swell manners so I did, but I remained firm where I stood and asked softly.
“You sure that’s what you want to do, Bird?”
He came one tiny hop closer to my foot, and after he gave a final peep, I knelt down and extended a bird invitation by laying an index finger low to the ground close to his little talons. Bird looked up at my face. I nudged his knees just once before he hopped on board. Then the two of us went on a search through the area, looking for tasty grub.
Along the route I had to remind him to stop his loud screech several times, or he might frighten away the menu, but you get a little bird excited and they rarely pay close attention.
There must have been a gazillion grasshoppers and other crawling delicacies living in the wood that day, and most went into hiding after the ones I caught spread the word before Bird interrupted their stories, one by one. So when the herd seemed scarce, we up and left, me and the bird.
Now he had already started acting calmer after he devoured the dozen or so I managed to nab, but by this time I had run out of steam and grown hungry too. And since he hogged all the food for himself there in the forest, I decided to drive by my sister’s place and see what leftovers she might have stored in her fridge.
My new friend rode the entire distance perched atop my steering wheel. He had no problem holding on to its laced-leather covering , but he complaining during the turns. I tried explaining about geography to him by using simple expressions, and how we could not drive in a straight line all of the time, even in the state of Texas, but his brain acted like it was not in the right gear for educating. Or maybe Bird hated the traffic worse than me.
The kids greeted my vehicle at the curb. The two girls squealed with delight when they saw little Bird, and both wanted a turn holding him. To keep the peace, I sent them and him to the back yard with proper instructions.
“Go find that bird some bugs.”
I went inside the cooled-down house and pestered my sis to make me a big ham sandwich. I took it and a glass of her sweet iced tea outside to sit on the back step where I could eat and watch all the running and stalking and all the creeping and catching that was happening all over the lawn. Lots of little creatures gave their lives that day, especially the pill bugs.
One of the girls brought out an old bird nest they had found, and the next thing I knew, they had it set securely atop a neatly-trimmed hedge next to the backside of their house. Bird sat in the middle of it, looking natural in his new digs, while his new parents ran around attended to his unending calls.
That iced tea hit the spot with me, and so did her sandwich. It was way after dark and fire flies had been blinking for some time when sis finally called her own little birds to come inside and wash up for bed.
We all-together chirped, “Goodnight, Bird.”
But the little thing was fast asleep and never answered.