Thursday, June 14, 2007

A Bird in the Chimney is Worth Less Than Two Outside

I live in an eighty-year-old house. It’s a cute cottage with a lot of personality. I had to have a house with personality, no boring old ranch for me. The trouble with personality is that it holds no allegiances. It’s cute, sure, but it’s cute on it’s own terms, homeowners notwithstanding.

Part of my house’s charm are the 3 original chimneys. Central heat and air were added about 5 years before we moved in so we rarely actually use them, but they make breathtaking candle holders and immediately draw your eye when you enter the room. We were delighted with them and in case we wanted to have a fire, we bought all the trimmings: a grate, tools and a freestanding screen. We were pleased with the results.

One lazy afternoon my husband and I were relaxing in our office when a sudden crash brought us to our feet. Fearing that a cat had finally knocked the aquarium off its stand I dashed to the living room, thinking that I could clean 30 gallons of water, rocks and assorted fish off the floor before my husband murdered a cat. He was right on my heels so I was going to have to work fast. We burst through the door and stopped. The fish tank sat benignly on its stand, water, rocks and assorted fish all in place. Then I noticed the fireplace screen was knocked over. The sound we heard was the sound of the screen hitting the hardwood floor. For an instant, we felt that we’d foolishly overreacted.

Then a dark shape swooped over my head. We’ve a lot of pets but none of them are capable of swooping. Cringing I looked up. A bird was frantically flapping around my living room. Three cats and one bird dog momentarily held their breath as though they couldn’t believe their luck. Brian and I momentarily held our breath wondering what to do. The stillness was shattered as everyone began moving at once. The cats went up every bit of furniture we own, eyeballs bugging. The dog bounced around frantically as only a Spaniel can do. Brian and I spread out wondering how any of us would catch the bird.

The frightened, disoriented bird flew towards the floor! Idiot! Hemmy seized his opportunity and leapt. With frightening accuracy, he snatched the bird from the air. Knowing the five of us were close behind him, he darted down the hallway with his catch, trying to elude us. Brian was close behind him. Visions of blood and feathers all over my house I dashed after Brian screaming for him to catch Hemmy. Friday, Kit and Claire followed me down the hallway and into the bedroom. Hemmy headed for the bed. Seeing the window of opportunity snapping shut, Brian fell to the floor, grabbed Hemmy by the tail and refused to let go.

Determined not to share his snack, Hemmy tried to pull free. Brian, with more resolve than I could have exhibited, held on tight. Pulling against Brian must have hurt Hemmy’s tail. He turned to bite Brian and opened his mouth. The bird burst from under the bed, flapping around the bedroom until it crash-landed in the basket of dog toys. Everything happened so fast. Somehow, I’d picked up a sheet. Realizing the sheet was in my hands, I tossed it to Brian who was closer to the basket. He dropped the sheet over the top trapping the bird inside.

The world suddenly seemed surreal. Was it really over? A sudden stillness descended over the house. We carried the basket outside.

“Is it alive?” I asked. Brian lifted the sheet and pulled the bird from the toys. Miraculously, we found no marks on its body, not even a ruffled feather. It sat in Brian’s hand stunned by the afternoon’s events. Suddenly, it spread its wings and took flight as though all was well.

How did the bird get in my living room you might ask? My charming fireplaces have no flues and allow birds free access to my home. Let this be a lesson to us all. A pretty face, or in this case fireplace, can hide nasty underlying flaws of character. Personality is truly a lady to be treated with caution!

10 comments:

Victor Tabbycat said...

What a great laugh! Poor Hemmy - no bird and a stretched tail. You might consider bird screens for the chimneys as this would also prevent them from nesting in them. But that would ruin the fun for the pets.

We had a ladybug flying in circles over our dinner one night, and came very close to having a cat flying in circles over our dinner, too!

Jessica said...

Something very similar happened to my in-laws, except it was a squirrel that arrived uninvited and my father-in-law that swooped around the living room trying to catch it. I would have paid good money to have been there to see that one.

I'm glad the bird was okay! That's the most miraculous thing of all!

Jennifer said...

Bird screens?! Why hasn't someone told me about these very, very nifty inventions before? Probably Friday has intercepted all mentions of bird screens in my life. Sneaky little smarty-cat.

Jess, I'd have paid good money to see that too. Then again, I'd have paid good money to see myself running after the bird!

Lill said...

Oh my goodness! What a mental picture I got as I read about your chase. And what a miracle that the bird survived your cats and dog. Obviously, it leads a charmed life. We've had bats, birds, squirrels and a small porcupine in our houses in Maine, but they didn't come down the chimney. If they did, they'd end up in the furnace.

Shine On (and get those bird screens),
Lill

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