Yesterday I was out of the house all day on various errands, which included a workout appointment and an extended research session at the local library to gather sources for an upcoming grad school paper. When I got back it was mid-afternoon and I ran upstairs to get out of my workout clothes. As I stripped off my top to the spandex exercise tank underneath, I glanced out the window to a swarm of insects. Oh no, I thought in despair, the hornets-flies-wasps-winged ants, whatever, are back, since we’ve waged battles in the past with all of them. Getting closer to the window I looked down onto the roof overhang and saw the attraction: a dead bird. He was on his back with his feet straight up, and if there was still any doubt in my mind that tweetie wasn’t just a sound sleeper, there were insects all over him. I can’t be certain of course that it was a him, even with his legs up like that, so I’m just using the first gender identifier that comes to mind and no deeper meaning should be ascribed.
Our upstairs is an addition to the house that was added back in the seventies way before we bought it, so if you look out the window of our dressing room, you see the pitched roof of the original ranch. If you looked yesterday, you’d see a dead bird that would be lying there indefinitely as a food supply for all manner of vermin unless it was removed. I pulled up the screen to survey how far away the bird was and the insects all made a beeline for the inside of our house, so I flailed them away and shut the screen. Hmmm, this would require a plan. A plan and a stick.
I looked around the room and spied a spring-loaded curtain rod behind the door that looked plenty long, so I opened the screen again and leaned out the window with the rod in my hand. It was too short. The bugs came at me again and down went the screen. I went downstairs and toured the house in search of a long instrument to move the bird, and found Husband’s vintage yardstick. As I prepared to open the screen again, I looked closely at the ruler and realized Husband might not appreciate feathers and bird guts on the end of it, so I put it back in his office and headed for the basement.
There was a Darth Vader Lightsaber on top of some boxes and I waved it around to check its suitability. It made me feel strong and invincible, especially in my royal blue spandex tank top, but it didn’t seem longer than the yardstick so I put it back where I found it. I made my way into the furnace room and saw a free-standing box next to the water heater filled with a bunch of Son’s old hockey sticks. Perfect. I could totally score with one of these. I picked out the longest one and wrapped my hands around the black tape that wound down the shaft all the way to the blade. Satisfied, I jogged back up the two flights.
It was a quarter to three as I lifted the upstairs screen for the last time and leaned halfway out onto the roof with the hockey stick in my hand. The elementary school had just been dismissed and bunches of kids and their parents were piling into the cars that lined the street in front of our house. I balanced my weight and took a swing at the bird, missing him entirely, but scraping the hockey blade on the roof shingles loud enough to draw attention from the people below. The insects were flying into my face and I realized I was committed now to finishing the job, so I leaned further out and swung the stick again sending the bird sailing across the roof and into the storm gutter. “SHIT!” I yelled, frustrated that after all my effort I would have to call the gutter service to come get tweetie out before the next rain or everything would back up.
Then I noticed my audience. About twenty parents and children were anchored to the ground by their cars watching a woman in a neon spandex tank top swing a hockey stick out an upstairs window and yell obscenities. Obviously no one could see the bird. Not knowing what else to do, I pulled one of my hands off the stick and waved. “Hi!” I called out. They scurried into their cars, some of the smaller children with their mouths gaping open in confusion and wonder. Hey, I may not be She-Ra: Princess of Power, but I do what I can.
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