Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Morning Madness

Alarm sounds at 5:30 a.m. I notice that the ISP server rejected all the emails sent last night. Happens about once a year. I resend. I discover that the sprinkle I had turned on in the dark before dealing with the emails has tipped over. Practical joke by the deer, I assume, so I reset it. In the dusty light of morning, I step on a snake while entering the garden. Luckily it's non-poisonous and only strikes my sneaker before slithering off. I return with about a pound of okra, ten big tomatoes, sixty-four cherry/grape tomatoes, four cucumbers, two green peppers, two Jalapeno peppers, and a tick crawling up my arm. I burn the tick and wash the veggies, before I notice that one of the hummingbird feeders is missing. I look down at the edge of the pond expecting to see it shattered amongst the rocks. Phew! It's intact, but to string another wire is a difficult process that takes fifteen minutes.

My wife has been promising all summer to weed the area around the pond. Now, that task is mine so I can retrieve the fallen hummingbird feeder. Fifteen minutes later, it is hung. Angry hummers feed immediately. No thanks. No gentle fanning of my beaded brow. I remove the second tick of the morning and enjoy his fiery death. Nightfall came before I could finish weed whacking last evening, so I grab the whacker, and after ten seconds, a hidden wire has wrapped itself around the rotating shaft. I'll save it for the afternoon to fix when it's too hot to work outside. Heading back into the garage, I notice the tire on my wife's car is flat. Another deer joke? No. More likely the handiwork of squirrels. I'll deal with it after I take down a dead tree that is liable to fall on the house should we get the potential storm, Gabrielle, this weekend. Two-thirds through the cut, the chain saw stops working. It's got gas and lubricating oil, but won't kick over. I change the spark plug. Somethings wrong. I load it into the back of the car to take to the repair shop in the middle of the woods (story for another day).

I'm sweaty. I'm frustrated. I need breakfast. Sydney, my 15-year-old cockatiel wants attention. He alights on my shoulder. "Whatcha doing?" he asks. I tell him. He doesn't care and picks at his feathers. As I'm flipping the bacon, the alarm sounds that the water needs to be shut off. I pass through the garage and open the backdoor as I've done a thousand times before. The water spigot is right there. Sydney gets spooked by something unseen by human eyes. He's flopped off before. He's clipped. Ten to fifteen feet later, he always plops to the ground, looks back at me, and alarmingly runs toward me as if to suggest, "What is the hell am I doing on the ground?"

He makes it to the balloon flower. Impressive. Suddenly, he has lift. Down the drive he goes gaining height. 150 feet later, he makes a right turn, as if he knows where he's going, and I'm in hot pursuit in my stocking feet. By time I reach the end of the driveway, he's nowhere to be seen. I call. No response. I run down the road a hundred feet. No response to my calls. I rush back to the house, turn off the water, and enter. The bacon is smoking up the house and the smoke detector sounds a deafening roar. (At least I know it works.) I turn off the burner, flip the bacon onto the paper towel, and dump the grease into a can. The frying pan is tossed into the sink under a dash of cold water. I laced up my sneakers to the sound guaranteed to attract the attention of the police. and neighbors. Unfortunately, since I live in the middle of the woods on a cul-de-sac with only five lots and four houses, and no neighbors home during the day, I'm alone in my search for Sydney during his great escape.

I run up the road trying to think like a bird. (Pause for you to think of all your bird brain jokes.) I figure that since he's never flown in woods before, he won't go beyond the yard of the last house on the street. I just hope their dog is inside. He's friendly to me, but Sydney might look like a doggie treat. I call. No reply. I whistle. No reply. I'm on their driveway heading for the back of their property can I call Sydney once more. I hear a faint chirp. Yes, there are many birds in our little oasis. I feed hundreds of them a day. I may not know all their calls or be able to tell which call belongs to which bird, but like a mother in a crowded shopping mall with hundreds of crying babies, I know the sound of my own. I call again. No reply.

I change tactics. Sydney has a small repertoire of words or phrases he knows. "Peek a boo," I call. "Peek a boo," he shouts back from my right in the woods somewhere. Oh, please don't be up a tree. He'll want me to come to him, and I'm not Tarzan. I call a again. He answers me, "Peek a boo." I get a fix on where he's at. We repeat the process five more times before he goes silent. I try a different call to keep him interested in this life or death game. Snakes, dogs, ticks, lice, coyotes, fox, and any other of a number of predators could be homing in on his troubled calls.

"Jack and Joy," I call. He responds immediately. I'm getting close, but I know he'll only do this call a couple of times. I try again. He responds. Again, and he goes silent. I call his name. Nothing. For the first time, I'm really worried. I call his name over and over again, not moving in the woods so I can hear his response. Nothing. MY WIFE IS GOING TO KILL ME. I may have to move to rural Maine to hide from her. Finally, I try, "Peek a boo," one more time. Leaves rattle at my feet, and he looks up from me from under a fallen twig clutching its leaves. "Peek a boo."

Stupid bird. Now isn't the time for games. I'd been standing next to him for the last three minutes. Relieved, I pick him up and carry him home. I put him on the short counter top where he lives and he heads for his box (he prefers a box) and from inside the box, he sticks his head out. He seems relieved to be in his comfort zone. It's 9:16 a.m., and my day is improving.


Anonymous said...

Boy, Rick, I wondered where you were this morning when you didn't have something posted at 0 dark thirty. What a day already!! I'm glad you found Sydney...I think you deserve a nap. A long nap in a cool place, followed by a cool drink. The day can only get better...and I was proud of myself for talking a walk on the beach and studying my craft for a couple of hours!

Anonymous said...

Sounds like it's time for a beer, neighbor! I hope Sydney learns something from all this!

Rick Bylina said...

Hey, it's September, and I'm actually behind in my beer drinking this year. I've only had seven. Found a beer called "Lump of Coal" in the refrigerator. Not sure when and how it got there, but I'm cracking it open.


Anonymous said...

My first thought was, "I didn't hear Sydney flew away!!!" Whew, you got him. Thank goodness. Sydney would have been furious if he had been left in the woods.