Since summer, my mom and I have been keeping an eye on a particular bird in the aviary at my dad's nursing home. We noticed it because it couldn't seem to fly. The bird—a finch—looked just like some of the others, so if it was a juvenile, it had been greatly surpassed by its siblings. This bird couldn't even hop into the food dish like the other birds did. Instead it ate the spilled food from the ground and spent its time cocking its head at all the other birds flitting about.
Then, one day, the bird was able to flutter upwards a couple of feet.
A few weeks later, it managed to fly all the way to the top of the aviary.
Now the problem was the poor thing still couldn't land. While the others would effortlessly shift from branch to wire to wooden perch, our little guy would hover for a few seconds and then drop back down to the sawdust-covered floor of the aviary. Alone. Again.
But those days are over. On Saturday, I witnessed the bird land. It still couldn't manage the wires or branches, but several times I saw it flutter up to a safe spot in the corner, land precariously, and cling with all its might.
With any luck, by my next visit, the bird will be flying and swooping and landing with such ease that I won't be able to tell it apart from the others.
During that time when the bird wasn't flying or landing—those many weeks of watching a creature try and fail at something it was meant to do—I often had the feeling that if only this bird could join the others, all would be right in the world. The anger, hate, injustice, ineptness that has darkened our days, particularly this last year, would somehow dissipate.
When I did finally see the bird land, nothing like that happened, of course. I cheered the bird on and then went home to the usual alarming headlines in the news. The challenges in my own life were no different than they'd been the day before.
But that's okay. It was enough to step away from the aggregate blackness for a time and notice that good things, simple things, were still taking place all around me.
Some birds have to work at flying. I guess we do too.
is a children's book author, editor, tutor, mom of two young adults and one feisty cat, and collector of weird things.
My Reading Corps Service
Letters for Kids
A Blue Ribbon Day
A Kind Neighbor, a Beaded Tree