It suddenly dawned on me: the stove. The fan for it is retractable, lowering down behind it, and for 20 years I’ve been closing it up on winter nights. It staggers noisily downward and then the little flap flips over at the end to cover it to be one extra layer attempting insulation: crashing and bashing and then this graceful little, Blip! One of its charms.
This fall for whatever reason it wouldn’t budge. Broken or just unplugged? I kept thinking I ought to check it and fix it if it was something really simple like that and yet every time I went to do that–to cut out that source of cold fresh air so that that end of the house wouldn’t be quite so chilly in the morning–it just didn’t feel… some part of me, I recognize only now, was adamantly pushing back No No No don’t do that, loudly enough that I never did get around to checking that plug behind the pots and pans underneath.
Midnight last night. We were just settling in.
BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP
Thirty-three hours after we disconnect the furnace?! After we air the house out all day?! (Oh wait–I opened the windows in all the *other* rooms–talk about CO-stupid.) NOW it tells us.
“Maybe the unit’s telling us it’s going bad–that one *is* old,” opines the hubby. Adding that he’d tested them to know their sounds and the real alarm is a straight-on siren.
So I unplug the little monster, I open the windows in there, turn the space heater to full blast, get the CO monitor from the kitchen, and and plug it in instead.
It stays blissfully silent. (Um, and the bad one was quiet in the kitchen. Details.)
Meantime, Joe saw Richard coming out the door to leave for work this morning and stopped him where he was, standing gently guarding a moment. They shook hands–it was the first time they’d seen each other during this job–and Joe pointed out the tiny bird at his feet lying on its side.
It had hit the window, “But we saw it move, still,” and he didn’t want any further harm to come to it if possible. He was just making sure it got noticed and not stepped on. It had been fleeing crows, and as a matter of fact, they’d seen a big hawk with a meal and the flock of crows harassing it trying to steal it, and this little one had scrambled to get out of their sight. (Joe got to see my hawk!)
Richard explained that if you just left it alone a half hour or so, and if the crows didn’t notice it, then it might well recover and fly off. Sometimes they would be blinded by the impact, though; we all hoped not.
I had joined them as the conversation was going on. Went back inside a few minutes later, got the phone and got its picture, pleased to see it sitting up now. Tiny, tiny little thing. I don’t know that I’ve ever seen a California gnatcatcher before, or certainly not up close. They come an inch and a quarter longer than a hummingbird–with gnats on the main menu, yeah.
About a half hour later I wondered if I could get a better photo–but it saw me coming and it flew over and into the tree, dodging quickly away from me. Safe! While I thought, it saw me! It’s not blind!
One of the last things Joe said on his way out the door at the end of the day, in a tone and shaking of the head of, but of course you didn’t, was, Did you see what happened to the little bird?
I told him, and in great relief he exhaled, OH good!
(Edited to add, if you didn’t see this story, don’t miss it. A Make A Wish wish went viral and 11,000 volunteers turned out to cheer on Batkid as he saved Gotham (San Francisco) from evildoers. The Batmobile. The damsel in distress tied to the cable car tracks. The kidnapped mascot, saved at the ballpark! Even Lois Lane came out of retirement to write the story, Clark Kent leading. So cool.)
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