This morning, a boom summoned me to wake. One of those crazy moments when it seems the world is called to attention, but everything looks the same, only the racing of my heart and the weary gaze of the hubster to confirm it was not the stuff of dreams.
Then, later, but not much, there he was. Out near the little birdbath in the side yard, he hopped, right wing askew. We shared a moment of observation before I asked him if he was hurt.
Like I invoked some sort of dare, he darted vigorously across the yard and into the safe prickle of Oregon grape leaves.
His kind came and watched from high in the tree, called out, summoning him to join their search for bugs. Sadly, he could not.
The hubster, geared up for work, was called, and we worked to catch him. More arduous than I expected, the bird did not want to be captured. When the hubster did finally get him in his grasp, the little fellow’s lament was loud and wrenching.
I made him comfortable, with food, and water, and an old towel that kept him from skittering on the plastic of the cage. Then we sat for a bit, calmed our jittery hearts, and he closed his eyes slowly, maybe in pain, maybe just to shield them from the sun.
We drove together, through downtown, where he jumped and clung to the bars, the raucous roar of diesels and the cacophony of a city on lunch break so very much to bear.
Then it was up the winding road and the terror of one tunnel of darkness and then another. Finally we turned in the parking lot and the kind-faced man with the Red-Tailed Hawk, beautifully old and wizened, showed us the way.
There was hope and gratitude and the possibility of me releasing him back to the place he was found.
I got the call later that it was not meant to be, that wing no longer meant to fly.
And then I remembered last week, in the heat before the Fourth, when I watered the garden. A young flicker came, him, I am almost certain, and fluffed and preened and waddled before fluttering off, wings heavy with moisture, and how happy I felt to witness it. That is what I will try to keep.