I hate pigeons.
In my girlhood, someone told me these birds carry 52 communicable diseases. Since that was over 25 years ago, God only knew how many they carried now. This information was augmented by my seeing the Alfred Hitchcock film, ‘The Birds.’ After that, I terrified myself these filthy feathered critters existed only to gorge my eyes out a la Tippi Hedren.
I had no intention, then, of going back to the greenhouse I had just fled to liberate the rat with wings frantically flapping around. How the hell had that squawking thing managed to get itself trapped there in the first place? Nightly, I always made sure the greenhouse door was firmly closed against God’s creatures.
Maybe I could call someone… but who?
Since my husband’s death, I had pretty much eschewed calling anyone for help about anything.
The thought of someone or, God forbid, a gang of someones, screeching up my pebbled driveway to play the rescuing hero(es) made my eyes water and mouth dry. Thank the Lord I had let Bronnie have his way when the driveway was re-done. Had he let me have my paved way, I would now not be able to hear every car wheel or footstep approaching the old farmhouse over a million crunchy pebbles.
And there was also my other bad habit of hating people to worry about me. A habit which meant I had kept the pebbles leading up to my current depressive state in my pocket and hidden, worn smooth with denial. Surely everyone is allowed a little down-in-the-mouth time after the death of a loved one? Did it necessarily have to mean I had full-on depression? A question I had yet to ask any professional.
Denial. I made a mental note to look up what number denial enjoyed in the oft-quoted stages of grief, although maybe I had pretty much moved onto anger by now. Bronnie bloody well knew I hated pigeons, so why wasn’t he here to deal with this current fix? His faith in me being able to tackle anything was sweet and life-affirming when he had lived and breathed by my side. Today, though, I merely doubted its veracity.
An idea. The large picture window in our bedroom up in the eaves would give me sight of what was currently happening in the greenhouse – as stomach-churning as that thought was.
From that birds-eye view, I saw the grey thing had stopped pecking at the greenhouse door and surrounding glass. Instead, the fat one was perched on the wooden staging pecking away at my newly planted seedlings. Flipping cheek.
“Hey,” I shouted from my ineffective position, “stop that.”
Grabbing a shoe, I near fell out of the window hurtling it towards the roof of the greenhouse. Another clever move. Why not add the financial burden of what it would cost to fix the damned greenhouse roof had the shoe made shattering contact.
A too-expensive glass house might be a thing of beauty forever, but the salesman conveniently forgot to add it’s also the gift that keeps on taking when anything in or around it needed replacing.
I remembered Bronnie and I had bought that greenhouse on a similarly overcast day, albeit this wet and predicament-led day was beginning to perk up as the sun considered wandering out to do its thing.
Bronnie and I once shone. We were the Dorothy Parker and Algonquin Round Table of our social circles and everyone flocked to listen to our combined wit and wisdom. No mean feat, given the intellectual talent and delicious quirks amongst our set. What would they make of me now? Halfway through a loft window, wearing Bronnie’s threadbare nightshirt with hair two shits to the wind. Hah, I still had it!
The sun shone brightly enough to trigger the greenhouse roof to open slightly as it was programmed to do lest delicate seedlings scorch themselves back into the soil in which they had been planted. Admittedly, that feature (or was it a benefit?) had proven to be invaluable in the unpredictable UK weather. Another greenhouse might have involved a bus ride back home in a lunch hour to affect the same lifesaving operation.
This feature or benefit was not lost on my grey friend who had left off eating precious seedlings to try and squeeze itself through the slit in the greenhouse roof the sun had so thoughtfully engineered. It wasn’t enough though. The crack in the roof was too narrow, or the bird too tubby, to give either of us a much-needed happy ending.
Except the feathered one didn’t seem to know it was too tubby for jailbreak as it pushed and squeezed and persevered its way through a depressing situation and suffocating space to eventual freedom skyward.
It was then I wondered… if that fat bird could do it, could I?
A true story.