The whole day was blustery, rain and winds so strong that my window started to hum with the vibration. That is why I was surprised to find when I came out to cook, that someone here had opened all the windows and left the door open to the deck.
Then I saw the cat, Sally, who clearly had her eye on a bird.
Sally is keen hunter. Even at the age of seven, she’s pretty fast. Her disadvantage in the hunt is that her owner hung a bell around her neck. It’s a huge bell, the kind they put on sleigh horses and it’s very loud. Otherwise, he said, the bird population around The Barn would be decimated. Before she had the bell, she’d hang around the redwood trees near the waterfall in the garden and wait for the little birdies to come to take a drink. Then she’d leap from the trees and snatch them up. With the bell on, at least the birds had a millisecond to react.
As I looked around for the bird, I saw she and Sally and tangled at least once, but the bird had survived.
Suddenly the bird, wherever it had been hiding, lit out for the kitchen and found a perch in the pantry.
I wanted to go in and grab it and shove it out the nearby window, but I didn’t know how or where to grab it. And Sally was right on her tail.
Then the bird took a mad chance and fluttered to the floor on the other side of the kitchen island. Sally crept silently to the opposite corner, planning a sneak attack.
The bird must have sensed something, because she came hopping around the far corner, as if to make her exit via the other side of the island. That was until the bird saw me. Stupid me, to fancy myself a benign presence, a savior, when I just looked like another enemy. The bird saw me, turned and started hopping back. Back to where Sally was waiting to kill her.
I screamed and ran to stop the cat, and the bird lit out for the rafters.
I had to re-assess my involvement in this. My actions were making things worse. All my running around was spooking the bird, blocking escape paths. I returned to the kitchen to continue cooking, hoping that the bird was getting a little rest. When she had restored herself, she would sense the wind blowing in from the open door and beat it out of here.
When I went to the deck to trim some mint for my salad, I understood I had bet on the wrong outcome.
The little bird was upright and still, not breathing, while the cat licking her lips in triumph.
I felt like I’d killed the bird, with all my inept moves. I had been at once too involved, and then too neglectful. I hadn’t known how to protect it. I’m a city girl. What do I know about getting birds out of a barn?
I returned to the chopping block, abusing myself for my actions and looking out at the stormy bay. What chances did the bird have, anyway? She was wounded, one-eyed, stunned from running into walls, and exhausted. When I looked out at the bay, I thought, well, it would have been better to die making one last attempt at freedom than cornered behind a flowerpot on a dirty deck in the paws of a cat.
Then I looked up at the deck and saw the bird! She was smarter than the cat, just playing dead rather than being dead.
She made it to the Camillia bush, which was swaying wildly. I heard the cat’s bell, as she roused from her seat cushion and hit the floor, and jangled loudly as she sprinted out the door to the deck.
The bird hopped from the Camillia bush, on to the deck railing and then off toward the south, sure to die making a last dash to freedom.