Shop Pigeon

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Memoir  |  House: Booksie Classic
A woman encounters a wild bird in her wood shop.

Submitted: February 18, 2008

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Submitted: February 18, 2008

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Years ago, my husband Tom and I lived in an old

house in the middle of several acres of cotton

fields in Kilmichael, Mississippi. The property

had been a dairy farm at one time. We didn't have

children yet, so we busied ourselves converting the

concrete barn into a woodshop. We completed the

work over a period of several months, getting each

major tool set up properly before we moved onto the

next one. We had installed windows in the shop,

too, so that sunlight could come in. Sometimes we

left the windows open a little bit for air.



One day, my husband came running into the house.

He said that there was a bird trapped in the shop.

He was wondering if I could help capture the animal

so that I could release it outside. I love

animals, so I walked to the shop to see what I

could do for the poor little thing. I was

picturing a tiny little brown bird with a cute,

high pitched little chirp. I opened the door to

see a fat, very agitated bird attempting to fly

through a CLOSED window. Well, Tom hadn't

mentioned that it was a full-grown pigeon.



There was another window in the building, and it

had been left open a little bit so that the air

could circulate. Apparently, that's how this bird

had entered the shop.



I have a particular fondness for pigeons. I had

had a pigeon in Sacramento, California, for a long

time and had become very attached to her. (My

uncle had been working on a landscaping project at

a hospital, and since there were flocks of pigeons

pooping all over the grounds, they were scheduled

to be destroyed. However, he managed to capture

one pigeon and he put her in a birdcage for me to

try to tame. The experiment worked, and Tweety and

I had a lot of fun together. After I tamed her,

there was no need for her to live in a cage, and

she would fly down from the trees to land on my

shoulder or head. She even used to sit on my head

as I dog-paddled from one end of the inground pool

to the other end. I used to love giving her rides.

She used to sleep under a deck chair near the

pool. She stuck to me like glue, especially when

we had company. We were companions for a long

time.)



Because of my previous experience with Tweety, I

was fascinated by the fat, agitated bird that I now

saw in the shop. The plan had been for me to help

the bird ESCAPE the shop, so that he wouldn't be

afraid anymore, but I had tamed Tweety in

California. She had been a wild pigeon, and I

wondered if I still had the knack of taming wild

birds. It wouldn't be easy, but the pigeon was

going nowhere fast, anyway, so I decided to try to

calm him down.



He repeatedly attempted to fly through the closed

window near the wood lathe. I knew that he would

get tired and have to rest EVENTUALLY. I was

right. After a few minutes, the pigeon landed on

the tool rest of the lathe.



I extended the index finger of my left hand and

attempted to push up from underneath the pigeon's

belly. I wasn't surprised when the animal took off

and did circles around the shop again. A minute

later, however, he again landed on the tool rest,

and if he was stubborn, he had met his match!



I put out my index finger again and gently pushed

up from underneath on his feathery belly. This

time, he put one foot up on my finger. He regarded

me for a long minute, as though trying to decide

whether he could trust me. I never averted my eyes

from his gaze. He was in control of the situation

now. I was offering an invitation of friendship

that he could either accept or decline.



After sizing up the situation, he accepted and put

his other foot up on my finger. I now had a wild

pigeon sitting on the index finger of my left hand!

I was intoxicated by a feeling of almost

impossible accomplishment! The next step would be

to see if I could move my left hand without him

flying off.



Praying that the pigeon wouldn't change his mind, I

lifted my left hand ever so slowly away from the

tool rest. I thought at any second that the pigeon

was going to fly off and I'd have to start all over

again, but he just sat there on my finger and let

me move my hand to approximately chest height. The

situation couldn't have been more delicate.



I SLOWLY lifted my right hand and began to gently

stroke the feathers on the pigeon's back. The bird

didn't move. He just watched me. Over a period of

several minutes, I increased the lengths of the

strokes until I was literally petting him. Then I

started stroking under his neck, and he nuzzled my

finger with his beautiful head. Over the course of

several minutes, we had negotiated a fragile peace

treaty.



The shop door opened and Tom walked in, expecting

the pigeon to be gone. Instead, he found me

petting the wild bird and talking very gently to

him.



"It figures," he commented, as he sized up the

situation.



"Isn't he pretty?" I asked.



"He IS. You can tame ANYTHING," he said.



"I'll take him outside now," I replied.



The pigeon was sitting on my left index finger. I

slowly brought my left hand up to my right

shoulder, where my new friend stepped off.

I walked slowly and deliberately out of that wood

shop, fully expecting the pigeon to launch as soon

as he smelled the brisk, clean air of freedom.

Instead, he stayed on my shoulder and didn't seem

in a hurry to fly away, so I put him back on my

left index finger and petted him for a few more

minutes, while Tom stood watching me, shaking his

head in amazement.



Eventually, I had to go back into the house to cook

lunch, so I found a short tree and placed my fat

little friend on a sturdy branch. I watched him in

awe for several minutes before I finally told Tom

that the shop was pigeon-free.



The bird was still on the branch when I glanced out

the kitchen window twenty minutes later. I

wondered how that experience had changed his

perception of human beings.



Sometime that night, the pigeon flew off into the

distance, but I thanked God profusely anyway for

that day's rare opportunity of friendship between

man and beast.



I never saw my feathered friend again, but from

that day on, I always left the shop windows open

about six inches -- just in case.


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