Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Don't Get Hitchcocky

Circumstances have changed with the little bird's nest since I wrote this post on Sunday, but I still wanted to tell this story in the meantime.  I'll update you later this week.

The little bird is still living at our house. Her nest is still cradling four tiny, blue eggs. But she's so quiet that sometimes I forget she's there -- no peeps or trills or chirps announce her presence. No, she announces her presence in other ways.


Soon after Justin and I got married, we got a kitten. A tiny gray thing, sleek and rowdy, he was the perfect addition to our apartment. He was so entertaining: on his first night in our living room, he sat on his back legs, front legs extended down to dainty perches. We'd played with him and loved on him so extensively that as he sat there, his eyes started closing. Slowly and without notice from him, his lids drooped and finally shut entirely. Still seated upright, he tipped over...over...over...until he hit the ground with a sleepy thump, waking at the last second and shaking the sleep away for a few more minutes of play.

When we'd had him for a few months, he got a respiratory infection and sneezed all through the night for a week. He sneezed so hard and so often, that he began spraying pink-tinted, bloody mucus everywhere he went. I was distraught -- our beloved kitten, so sweet and happy, but obviously not healthy. A trip to the vet confirmed that he'd be fine, we just needed to put a humidifier in the bathroom, lock the kitten in there with it, and let him regain some moisture in his sore sinuses.

As much as two people could love a cat, Justin and I did. He wasn't the stereotypical cat -- no aloof superiority from him, only sweet playfulness and happy greetings. He lived strictly indoors with us, and we doted on him.

Then we had a baby and our sweet cat was suddenly a nuisance. He scratched in the kitty litter box -- loudly -- and woke the baby up. We occasionally found him perched on the edge of the crib, curious about the wiggling baby inside. The final offense came when we spotted a miniscule black flea tucked under my daughter's infant sock line. That was it: the cat was kicked out. He'd always begged to be let outside, and we'd never let him. I was too afraid of him running away or being hit by a car, so he'd rarely tasted such freedom before. Thankfully, Justin had been against de-clawing him from the beginning, so our innocent house-cat would learn to take care of himself in the wilderness of our neighborhood.

Four years later, he's still here: purring himself around our legs as we walk up the front steps, sunning on the edge of the garden, tolerating the torturous advances of a two-year old, and meowing impatiently at the door at mealtimes.


Justin had just finished an evening bike ride, and neither of us had yet remembered to feed the cat. It was late, it was dark, and we bickered about whose job it was to walk all the way around the porch to the cat's food bowl. Since Justin was only wearing a towel after his shower, it fell to me: surely I wouldn't make a mostly-naked man feed the cat, would I?

I grumbled while putting aside my computer, I grumbled while scooping cat food out of the bag, I grumbled as I opened the front door -- quietly, so as not to disturb my sleeping daughters. I started out slowly. Our porch light is burned out, so I felt sure there were raccoons or opossums or some other terribly dangerous creatures lying in wait. Not being immediately attacked, I closed the door behind me, and stepped away from the door.

I remembered the mother bird too late. Startled, she swooped off her nest and fluttered around wildly for a moment. I ducked and covered my head -- without lights, I had no idea where she was, other than what I could gather from the sound of her aggressively flapping wings. I tried to get away from the nest as quickly as I could, but she followed me. Bursts of air puffing around my head, I tired to dodge her even as I knew I didn't want to slap the darkness around me. I didn't want to hurt her, but it appeared that she absolutely DID want to hurt me. She darted past my ears one last time before I made it to the other side of the porch, where kitchen lights poured out at me.

Banging on our locked back door, I yelled for Justin to rescue me from the deranged, protective bird. I threw the cat's food down, and pounded on the window panes -- all thought of not waking my sleeping daughters faded in the terror of the attack bird's ferocity. Justin rushed to the door, not having a clue what was wrong. Was there a snake? A raccoon? A june-bug (one of my particularly fearsome fears)?

He tried to unlock the door quickly -- obviously, his level-headed wife was in some sort of distress -- but the lock is tricky. It sticks and hangs. It requires finesse and strategy and the use of both hands. Since Justin kept one hand on his dangling towel, it seemed like he'd never be able to let me in and save me from the (now long gone) bird. Screaming near-obscenities at him to open the door lest I perish from the vigorous flapping of bird wings, I begged him to drop the towel.

He did. There stood my fully undressed husband, trying to jimmy the lock while his flailing wife waited not-so-patiently on the other side. 


The unflappable cat sat serenely eating his dinner. 


The bird's heart rate returned to normal sometime later on her nest.  She probably second-guessed her choice to build it on our porch.


I burst over the threshold spewing some frantic retelling of my adventure and why Justin should be the cat-feeder for now and evermore.


  1. Ha! I love the part where he drops his towel.
    But I have to agree that having a bird swoop down on you is terrifying!

  2. OH, this truly made me LOL! That will be a story to tell for years to come!

  3. Oh Sarah, this post had me in stitches! That unflappable cat! Those flapping wings! I'm glad you made it out alive!

  4. What a great post! You are an amazing writer. As an English teacher, my students could learn a lot from your descriptive yet highly entertaining style. Bliss!

  5. Best post ever! I'm laughing so hard tears are forming.

  6. Serves you right for kicking the cat out ;)...

    Too, too funny, though, seriously.

  7. I got attacked last week by a very angry nesting bird and it is no fun at all!

  8. That darn cat!! You are so talented, but you already know that ;)

    P.S. There is an award for you at my place.

  9. Marcos Mais TerraJuly 14, 2010 9:44 AM

    I've heard Justin telling more than one account of how awesomely athletic that cat is; The cat could leap to the top of a 7 foot door from a standing position on the floor. I always figured that he would seem LESS apealing once the babies came along. But, you just can't hate a critter that tastes as good as chicken.


Hmm...And how did that make you FEEL?