February 29, 2012 - So, there I was. All snuggled up, warm and cozy under the blankies, lying in bed reading some cheap pulp fiction (Black Rain, by Graham Brown). It was last Wednesday night, around 8:30. As my eyes scanned the letters before me, I noticed the wind pickup behind me, outside.
Soon there after, I heard a soft thud against one of the three windows behind my headboard. And, then another. "Hmm. I thought," taking a moment's break from reading. "The wind is really picking up."
Then the two cats started making a racket in the window, which distracted my reading some more. "Argg!" I growled at the felines in my vicinity. I threw off the covers in exasperation and stood on the cold, wooden floor (to keep my rein as Cheapest Dad In Town alive, I keep Case d'Rush a balmy 52 degrees Fahrenheit all winter).
A little bird was sitting on the other side of the windowsill. The cats went into a deeper frenzy each time the bird hopped up and slammed itself against the glass. What the . . .?
It was a smallish bird. If I had to guess, and I am, I'd say it was a finch of sorts. It looked young. Has the warm winter made for early broods of birdlings? I turned off the reading light over my headboard.
The bird stopped banging up against the window.
I turned on the lights, and, thud. The bird hit the invisible-to-it plane of glass. I turned off the light.
I got out a flash light and shined it out the window, soon the ball of feathers was on the ground a few feet away from the window. The wind picked up and the storm windows rattled a little. I took a deep breath and flicked off the flashlight.
What to do? Turning the light on to read would only make the little birdie bounce back up and off the window. But, I wanted to read. I wasn't tired. I knew it was cold outside, because standing there in my skivvies I started to notice the chill myself. "Poor little bird," I thought. "Mother Nature's a cruel mistress. Survival of the fittest, and all."
I hopped back in bed and put the covers over my head and turned the flashlight on and started reading again. Tic-toc. But, I couldn't concentrate on the words in the book . . . tic-toc . . .the plot . . . tic-toc . . .characters . . . tic-toc . . . and cadence were lost . . . tic-toc!
A little voice inside my head squeaked, "What would Dad, do?"
Growing up, my dad was the persona of masculinity. To the outside world he let on his love of country, John Wayne movies, all sports, meat, potatoes and Winstons cigarettes. He didn't like cats or birds or fish or lizards. Houses were for people and dogs.
Everybody who knew Dad, knew that. What they may or may not have known was he was tenderhearted. A softy. On countless occasions over the course of my childhood birds and some cats would make their way into our attached-garage to have their young.
And, each time Dad discovered this, he'd hang his head, then look up and shake it. "I'm a family man. Let them have their family."
He said the same thing each time.
And, the birds or cats would stay. When old enough, we would find homes for the kittens. As soon as the birds were old enough to fly, Dad would instruct yours truly to rid the garage of the nest and bid me and the sisters to keep the garage door closed.
And again, I thought of the howling wind, cold temperature and -- son-of-a-gun, it sucks to have a conscience!
I threw off the covers for the second time in about 10 minutes, got dressed, made a nest out of old newspapers in a basket, threw in a slice of bread and headed out into the night.
I found the little puffball out in the yard, picked him up and gently put him in the basket and then closed the top. I talked softly to him and put him in our side porch, out of the wind. I called my neighbor lady, Kathy, and told her I'd place a basket next to her back door in the morning, if the bird I caught was alive. In the morning, it was. I put the basket out in the morning by her back door, cuz the bird lived.
I later learned when Kathy went to give it some bird seed, it flew away. Mission accomplished. Maybe Dad would be proud.
Don is Assistant Publisher for Sherman Publications, Inc. He has worked for the company since 1985. He has won numerous awards for column, editorial and feature writing as well as for photography. He has two, sons Shamus and Sean and resides in the area. To read archived copies of his columns, click on his name, just under his picture up top . . . He can be e-mailed at: firstname.lastname@example.org