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Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Learning To Fly

Yesterday, while celebrating the lovely holiday, Lane 2 and I were hitting the volleyball back and forth in our yard. She whacked it out of my reach and I went running for it. I heard a little "peep" that stopped me dead in my tracks.

"Keep moving Lois," I told myself.

Of course I didn't listen and had to find the sound. As I got closer to the sound, it became more frantic. By then, Lane 2 wanted to know what was going on.

"Don't you hear that?"

"Yeah. It's a bird."

"Good ear honey. But where is it?"

We looked around, quietly following the sound. Lane 2 spotted a little bird trapped in one of our bird feeders. I gave her a boost so she could get it off of the tree. I opened the feeder but rather than flying out, it burrowed itself deeper. The fear of the damn thing suffocating before my daughter's eyes, dawned on me. I began to dump the seeds out of the feeder, hoping the bird would follow the flow of the seeds. It didn't.

I set the feeder on the ground on its side, hoping the stupid bird would come out. After a half hour, it began chirping up a storm again. Eventually, I flipped the feeder upside-down and tapped the sides to coax it out. A little shaken up, it came out and flew away.

As I addressed my complaint letter to the bird feeder manufacturer, located on Dixie Drive, I began to think about my sister Angie. The keyword to trigger my memory was Dixie. I took that as a sign that it was time to tell you guys about the time she carried a baby bird around in a Dixie Cup.

Her partners in crime were a neighbor boy, Jerry and our cousin, Natalie. They found a bird on the ground by a tree. Natalie ran into her house to get a Dixie Cup for them to carry that tiny, featherless baby around in.

The three kids began fighting over who was going to hold the bird. Our mom, our aunt and Jerry's mom were yelling at them.

"Angela! Get in this house this instant!"


"Jerry behave!"

They were in big trouble. I smiled about that. Our neighbor boy was the only one of the Three Musketeers still outside with the bird. He let me have a little peek while the girls were washing their hands and getting yelled at.

"Ummm, that bird doesn't have any feathers, and it ain't moving."

"No duh, shrimp!"

"You guys are fighting over a dead bird?"

That boy never answered me, and he didn't give me another peek. When Natalie and Angie emerged, both went running straight for Jerry.

"Give me that bird!" Angie demanded.

"It's my bird!" Jerry claimed.

"That's my cup. And that means what's in there is mine too! Give it!" Natalie protested.

Angie bulldogged them into giving the dead bird back. She buried it, eventually. She made a tombstone out of the little Dixie Cup and made a cross with two sticks. Natalie was quickly behind her with a tablespoon from her kitchen, digging up the dead bird.

Natalie conducted her own private ceremony and reburied the bird. She copied Angie's grave design adding two sticks for a cross. Angie spotted Natalie putting the final touches on the new grave.

"What do you think you are doing? That bird is mine. Fucker!" Angie's eyes nearly popped out of her head. She couldn't believe she just said what she said. As deeply engrossed as she was, she knew she said the mother of all bad words. And our mom, like always, was right within earshot.

I don't remember what happened to the dead baby bird. I think I was in shock over Angie's use of choice words. I don't even remember if she got the beating of a lifetime. What is still very fresh in my mind is the vision of three little kids running after each other, fighting over a dead bird, as it bounced about in that dirty little Dixie Cup. And of course, the look on Angie's face when she blurted "Fucker!" Classic.