We moved in to a new home – not new, just new to us – in July. Moving is a lot of work, and so is making your new home feel as homey as your previous home, but I don’t want to go down that path this morning.
We were in our third weekend in the house. The first weekend was a blur, really. We moved in on Saturday. Stared at each other Sunday wondering what in the world we had done and where in the world to start the recovery, before deciding to go see Wicked at the Civic Center. Monday was a holiday, so we finally did something, though I can’t recall what it was. We decided if the milk should go on the left side of the refrigerator or the right side, maybe.
By the third weekend, we were tired of looking at boxes and wanted to give the kids one of the things that they had wanted for a long time, a trampoline. So on Saturday, two weeks after moving in, we put the trampoline together. You know, 35 years ago, the trampoline instructions were about 2 pages long and ended with, “Once you have all the springs in place attaching the trampoline to the frame, you’re ready to jump!” Nowadays, once you get the trampoline attached, you’re about a third of the way through the assembly process. This trampoline has padded poles and pads over the springs, all outside of an 8-foot high net. It also has a Fly-Slama-Jama basketball goal because, if you’re going to jump that high, you need to dunk a small basketball.
The kids loved it, as most kids would, and spent Saturday playing their iPads in the house because it was too hot in July to jump on a trampoline. Not really, but that’s usually the way things go. They actually jumped for 10 to 15 minutes at a time before they retreated back in to the air conditioned home.
It didn’t take long for the neighbor’s kids to see that we had a trampoline, and Sunday afternoon we had every kid in the cul-de-sac in our backyard bouncing around, although the trampoline warning clearly stated that only one child at a time should be allowed to jump. Risk Managers can be dweebs.
Anyway, so kids are jumping and dunking and bouncing around under the “close adult supervision” of Leah and Amy, one of our new neighbors and the mom of just under half of the kids on the trampoline, who are talking under the tree in the backyard.
I was in the garage, staring at a blank pegboard trying to remember where I had all of my tools organized at the old home when I heard it. It was a loud, high-pitched scream of terror. It was a scream of confusion. It was chaos.
I opened the door from the garage to see people running everywhere. Kids had stopped jumping and were jumping through the zippered gate of the trampoline, looking to take shelter under the trampoline. Adults ran to the back porch, screen-less and offering no defense from the aggressor.
Then I saw Leah. She had an angry bird – a real angry bird, not one of those that you shoot from a sling-shot – perched on her upper back taking pecks at the back of her head.
Peck, peck, MIAAAAK (that’s the noise it was making). Peck, peck MIAAAAK! Wings out wide, for balance, I guess, because it wasn’t trying to fly away.
She ran from beneath the tree and towards me. I backed in to the garage and closed the door on her because birds carry disease. (Not really!) She managed to shoo the bird from her, and the bird took on as its new target the people who ran to the screen-less porch. Why did they run to a porch with no screen? People do funny things in the heat of a bird attack, I guess. Anyway, the people on the porch scatter back in to the yard, some under the trampoline, some to the top of the play house. The bird zooms the deck a couple of times before coming to rest on the fence.
By now, the other parents have stopped mowing or talking or relaxing and have come in to the backyard to see the show. The kids pick up tennis rackets and sticks or whatever to defend themselves from the, what we believe to be crazy, bird. The dads ask me what is happening. “Apparently that bird does not want those people in this backyard,” I say, pointing to all the parties involved.
The bird makes another loop around the backyard, and then seems to disappear.
“It’s gone!” someone declared.
“What was wrong with that bird?” someone else asked.
“Somebody Google if birds can have rabies!”
After a few moments of peace, the adults gather on the small patio to retell the story. My kids take it back in to the house, 10 years of encouraging them to go outside and play ruined by a few moments with a crazy bird.
And then I hear it.
MIAAAAK. MIAAAAK. MIAAAAK. MIAAAAK
I opened the door to the garage, the one that I walked out of earlier, to see the bird perched on one of the garage door rails.
It screamed at me. “It’s in the garage” I say to Peter, one of the dads who, for the next few years, will be telling his kids that all birds aren’t evil.
I go through the person door, grabbing a broom as I go, while Peter loops around to enter via the open roll-up door.
I approach the bird, broom raised in front of me like I’m Luke Skywalker about to have a light saber duel with Darth Vader, and the bird just looks at me. He stretches out his wings to make himself seem larger and more imposing. I’m only slightly deterred.
MIAAAAK. MIAAAAK! Its little black eyes trained on mine. Whatever this bird is thinking, it is not I’m afraid of that broom.
I approach the bird slowly and, I promise, for every small step that I take toward the bird, he takes one toward me.
I get to the rail, and by “I” I mean the tippy end of the broom reaches the rail, and I start trying to encourage the bird to fly out the opened door.
MIAAAAK! MIAAAAK! Four ounces of terror screams at me. MIAAAAK! MIAAAAAAK!
But I’m, for the most part, fearless – and by fearless, I mean that I’m fairly confident that – if attacked – I can hit the bird with the broom or drop it and run like a little girl.
I push forward with the broom.
Really, in all honesty, it was just my goal to shoo the bird from the garage, but when Peter asked, “Do you want me to hit it with the tennis racket?” I replied, “That’s not going to hurt my feelings.”
I push forward and, really to my surprise, the bird gives me one more MIAAAAK, looks around the room to evaluate his options, realizes that he may have made a strategic error by flying in to the garage, and makes a break for the open door where Peter is stationed.
Bad choice, but then again it was a crazy bird.
As the bird flew by, Peter drew back the tennis racket and WHACK! The bird, no longer under his own power, tumbles through the air across the driveway, skids across the concrete, and finally comes to rest about 50 feet away.
We hurry to put the bird in a small cardboard box before the smaller children saw its lifeless body. The kids were either in the house or the backyard, their view obstructed from the most recent development, and I guess we didn’t want them to be traumatized any more than they had been already.
Then the adults just stood there, staring at each other. Someone had determined that birds can’t carry rabies, which was a small consolation I guess.
I asked my new neighbors, “Is this what we do every weekend?”
They looked at me like I was the crazy bird.
I’m out of time. Way out of time. Y’all have a great weekend!