Mostly, Mondays are pretty routine for Lily and me. We go for our morning run before sunrise, have breakfast, put seed out for the birds and water the garden and plants if there hasn’t been any rain. In fact this is what most of our mornings are like. Then a scattering of cleaning, trip to the library, reading, crossword, errands, writing, not in any particular order. We’d just come home from the library, I started picking stuff up, reorganizing before I vacuumed when I heard a thumping clatter, sounded like out on the deck. I looked around for Lily and when I did not see her looked out the window to the deck. Nothing. Maybe a bird took a swipe at a window which happens occasionally. So I went out to get the mail, sorted through it, perused through a Bible study workbook I’d ordered when I heard it again. This time I pretty much knew it wasn’t outside, and Lily stuck her head around from the kitchen to look at me to see if it was me. I told her we needed to search this noise out and she followed me to the back part of the house. Sure enough, I walked into one of the bathrooms and saw an object fling itself up in the air to my left. A mourning dove, pretty young from the looks of the spots on its wings, exhausted and terrified. Lily, not one for sudden strange movements or noises she can’t identify withdrew back into the living room.
Moving slowly I stood on the edge of the bathtub, speaking softly, watching its little chest expand and contract faster than 3 per second and brought my hand behind it. Off it took, slamming into the mirror opposite the window. It came to rest behind the sink faucet and again, glacially slow, speaking soft words I moved toward it and gently grasped it. It flailed and flung its wings against its unknown but likely enemy captor and after a few moments quieted. I saw an angry pink abrasion just above its eyes and grabbed a tube of antibacterial ointment. This was no easy feat, cradling a shock-stricken dove in my left hand and one-handedly opening and squeezing out a tiny amount of the stuff, then reclosing it so the rest of the tube did not keep running out. The dove allowed me to apply the salve to its head, maybe it felt good, maybe it was beyond tired to fight.
I walked back outside to the deck, all the time crooning to the little bird, whistling as a dove parent would to its young and gently opened my fingers where it clutched one finger and sat, balancing with its beleaguered tail feathers. And it sat. I sat on one of the Adirondack chairs. Lily, curious, crept through the dog door to come look at the little bird, then retreated. I thought to get my phone and take its picture to send to my son but as I brought my other hand up to steady it, off it went, into a sweet gum tree.