The Reason I Get Up in the Morning had a full girls’ day planned this past Saturday so she left the house around 9:00 to pick up one of her friends who is getting married this coming Saturday. They were going to pick out altar flowers and some other mystical stuff that guys never understand about their own weddings, much less anyone elses. Then they had a bridal luncheon planned. Well, all that meant to me was six hours of “me time” to do whatever I wanted . . . as long as the laundry got done.
My first order of business was breakfast. I have a serious weakness for McDonald’s hotcakes, so I ventured out into the torrential downpour to visit the local Golden Arches for my usual: three orders of hotcakes (total of nine circles of golden goodness), two hashbrown patties, a hot fudge sundae, a cinamon bun with icing, and a large Diet Coke.
When I got out of my Element — seems I’m always getting out of my element — I noticed a very bedraggled looking young robin huddled on the sidewalk. He looked like a yearling just mastering the art of flying and apparently, this was his first run-in with what human pilots call “instrument only” flying. He just sat there looking cold and miserable and defeated. I eased him over to the cover of an equally bedraggled bush so someone wouldn’t tread on him accidentally — or more likely, stomp him on purpose (we live in that kind of world) — and went inside to work on my heart attack.
When I came out twenty minutes later, I checked on the little guy. He was still where I’d left him and he looked like ten miles of bad dirt and gravel road. I reached down figuring he’d fly away, but instead, he just looked up at me with a sort of resigned sigh of a gaze that said, “so this is how it ends; life was so short.” I couldn’t help smiling because I’ve seen that look in the mirror on many a Monday morning (and many a Sunday morning back in college, but I digress).
I scooped him up in my hand and he gave a half-hearted peck at my finger and sort of ruffled his feathers, more to keep up appearances in case any of the relatives were watching than any real attempt to get away. I unlocked the Element and sat him on the passenger side floor where he dissolved into a head down blob of soaked feathers and misery. Once I got the VTEC rolling, I cut the heat on full blast. I could see the draft of warm air move his tail feathers.
It didn’t take long for the little fellow to locate the source of this wonderful artificial Santa Ana and he hopped right up next to the vent duct. I was a little worried at first that he might try to climb inside, but he was content to hunker down at the mouth of the vent. As I backed out of my parking space, he shot me a look that said, “I just may survive after all.”
I went to get gas and left the engine and heater running. By the time I’d filled up and pulled away from the pumps, he had almost completely dried out and spread his wings to get the dampness from the undersides. I could tell then that my suspicions had be correct . . . he was wet and cold, but otherwise unharmed; no broken wings or missing feathers.
In that mode, we wended our way towards home. About half way back to the house, he actually fluttered up to my shoulder and looked me in the eye. I told him that I understood his concern, but that I wouldn’t make any comments about how he flew if he didn’t make any snide whistles and chirps about how I drove. He hopped down from my shoulder and explored the rest of the vehicle for the duration of the trip home.
Once we reached the Feet hacienda, I reached under the back seat and plucked him from his new found hiding spot. Again, he put up a bit of a token resistence, but mostly sat quietly in the relaxed grip of my left hand. I set him in an old nest we had on the porch then seated myself in the porch glider and waited to see what he’d do. After taking the measure of his surroundings, he flew from one end of the porch to the other then alighted on the rail, and, giving me a head bob of what I took to be avian appreciation, fluttered off into my boxwoods where I’m sure he received a warm welcome from the rest of the resident fowl.
The moral of the story? I don’t suppose there is one, but if I had to make one up, this is what it would be. The economy is in the tank. A lot of us, including yours truly, are going to lose their jobs. It’s a stressful time for just about everyone. Blame is flying around. People and companies are going bankrupt. In general, it’s a cold, wet, and figuratively miserable day and a whole bunch of us are on the wet tile sidewalk of life just waiting to get stomped on.
And what can I do about it? Not a dead blessed thing. I can’t change the economics; I can’t “dry the world off” so to speak. I’m in a mess myself. But, I can take the time to help out a creature less able to meet the demands of the moment than I am. That’s the only way we are going to make it through these times ahead — together. So, if you see one of your sisters or brothers — one of your fellow travelers on our Pale Blue Dot — and he or she is lying soaked and miserable on the sidewalk of life, take a moment to lend a hand. Sometimes, all they need is a little time in some warmth just to get some strength back to flutter on a little further. That’s the best any of us can hope to do, y’all — just flutter along and try our best to keep our feet clean. Love you all.