Once upon a lifetime ago I was a remodeling contractor. I built all sorts of things for people and redid their kitchens and bathrooms, finished their basements and built decks around their swimming pools. And thus it was that, early one spring, I found myself finishing a basement for my brother.
The last part of that job was installing a maple window shelf along a knee wall that ran alongside the wall of windows in their walk-out basement. The shelf was made up of twelve-foot long boards and since I had just laid all new flooring in the basement, I was taking the trim-work outside to cut it. The door to the basement is a set of French doors and I opened both doors to facilitate my going in and out with the long pieces of maple.
My brother and his family live in the country on a beautiful piece of property. You see deer, ducks, geese and many songbirds. During the previous two weeks, I had seen a flock of turkeys saunter by, a big tom herding his hens along and keeping track of them. His tail was fully displayed in the annual rituals of spring.
They came straight at my face as a I maneuvered a long piece of 1 x 12 maple stock outside. The female was first and the male in hot pursuit. For a fraction of a startling second, I was certain they would collide with my face. At the last possible moment, they split apart and went, one to either side of my head.
They were so close that I felt the air pushed by their wings and the male brushed my cheek with his wingtip as he went by. The pair of bluebirds flew straight into the basement. Standing half-in and half-out of the door, I was astonished at how close they came to me and the air that moved my hair as they flew past. I watched in both dismay and amazement as they circled the basement and looked for the way out.
I hurried to get the board outside, put it down on the sawhorses and went back in. By then the two birds had realized they had made a big mistake and were trying to get through the windows and back outside. I had no idea what to do, but I was sure they were going to hurt themselves.
I approached the nearest one carefully and from behind. It was against the window and beating it's wings frantically to get through the glass, but of course it was going nowhere. I reached over and closed my hand around its body, folding the wings down.
The other bird was about ten feet away and doing the exact same thing as the first. I moved away and approached from behind again. This one saw me and tried to move away, but ran into the window frame. I reached again and like magic, I had a bluebird in each hand.
As I walked to the door, I could feel their hearts beating and it seemed to me they were synchronized together. I have no idea how many beats per minute or second a bluebird's heart beats, but it is fast. At the same time, I was amazed by the fragility and beauty of the creatures I held in my hands.
I walked out of the doors and about fifteen feet from the house. As I put my hands up level with my face and opened my fingers, the bluebirds seemed to hesitate for just a moment, then took off. They circled me once and went higher, then made straight for the small meadow just beyond my brother's front yard.
It was all over in the space of a two minutes, but those moments were etched on my memories and I'll never forget the time I held two, tiny beating hearts in my over-sized hands and watched them fly away
Copyright 2012 MJ Logan. All rights reserved. No republication without express written consent.
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