"Well, you know what they say, Nora. A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush." I'm driving, and she's sitting behind me, and I can see what her face is saying without even looking.
"Yeah, I don't know what that means either. Anyway, what do you think of Feathers?"
It's been almost one year since she dressed as a bird, spread birdseed across every windowsill in the living room and called to them from the front stoop. Almost one year since she set up the incubating contraption. And now we're driving home from Earl May's with a frightened parakeet in a little box.
Grandma has a cold, but she agreed to drive with us anyway. I have to admit that "going into town" by myself these days feels so vulnerable. All that traffic. All those people. "You'll have to thank Lynn for letting you keep a bird in the house."
"Okay, Grandma. MOM! Quit driving so crazy! You're going to scare him!"
I'm not really driving crazy (though I did miss the turn and somehow ended up in the Starbuck's drive-thru as my "U-Turn"). We're on 34 taking the back roads back to York, and like most back roads, they have a "few" potholes.
And we're up way past our bedtime, but it's Spring Break, and we set up the cage in the middle of the living room floor and now we're singing to him. We try a few verses of "Senior Don Gato" and decide it might not be the right time to sing cat songs to a frightened bird. So I sing the Dumbo song replacing "Baby, mine" with the words "Birdie, mine." His chest stops heaving, round and wide eyes black as holes begin to blink. His lids lower slowly, and by golly, we've managed to sing our new bird to sleep. I love him already. I feel something good about him.
Last night Nora and I ended the day with a prayer for help finding the right bird. And when the bearded bird handler at the store blocked the entrance with his wide shoulders, slowly bringing his big hand into the cage, five parakeets flew wild, but the little one, the one Nora had pointed to flew right into his hand.
"That's a good sign," he said.
You're telling me. A bird in the hand, indeed.