A bird in the hand

Maryland Independent - - Classified - By Twit­ter: @right­meg

Ad­ven­tures in home­own­er­ship, vol­ume 218.

On a re­cent Satur­day, my brother-in-law came by to help with our yard sale (which went well — though I’m not ea­ger to schlep our ran­dom stuff into the grass again any­time soon). Af­ter foot traf­fic slowed down, we loaded up what would go to char­ity and hauled the rest back in­side. Eric and I be­gan de­bat­ing lunch lo­ca­tions while my hus­band got cleaned up.

Mex­i­can? Burg­ers? Thai? A quick sand­wich? The se­ri­ous is­sues of our times, friends.

My 1-year-old was in his high chair eat­ing a pureed “lunch” him­self when I heard a strange . . . tap­ping sound.

Like Aunt Bethany in “Na­tion- al Lam­poon’s Christ­mas Vaca- tion,” the ec­cen­tric but sweet older rel­a­tive who first no­tices a squir­rel in the fam­ily Christ- mas tree, I heard an odd noise com­ing from the liv­ing room. Noth­ing seemed amiss — un­til I no­ticed a flut­ter­ing near the fire­place. In the fire­place, ac­tu­ally. This struc­ture has been prob­lem­atic since we moved in. It’s not a light-a-fire, sweep-the-chim­ney sort of fire­place: more like a show­piece. Some­thing that looks pretty at the hol­i­days, but is other­wise a nui­sance. Even the log in­side is fake.

When we bought our home two years ago, a neigh­bor men- tioned he’d once helped the pre- vi­ous owner with a bee prob­lem in a liv­ing room al­cove. Be­ing the new kids on the block and all, we lis­tened to this story with in­ter­est . . . but not con­cern.

Un­til that first spring rolled around.

By March, the bees were swarm­ing fast and fu­ri­ous through a gap in the sid­ing — into what was, Spencer soon dis­cov­ered, an ex­tremely large hive. He tried to show me grainy cell phone pic­tures, but I was al­ready hunt­ing for my suit­case and pass­port.

As long­time read­ers might re­call, I’m ter­ri­bly bug-pho­bic. I nearly screamed when a col­league jumped quickly from his desk chair, as­sum­ing a spi­der had shim­mied down his spine. (He’d dropped part of a muf­fin.) When Spencer and I once found bees swarm­ing around a ceil­ing fan, I nearly tossed our freshly-cut house keys into the bushes. Just chalk it up to a loss and move on, you know?

I’m a ridicu­lous wimp. But wimps don’t usu­ally get stung.

Two-month-old Oliver had only been home a few weeks when honey drip­ping from an over­head light made bee re- moval a pri­or­ity: one that took over the liv­ing room. With our new­born in a bassinet, Spen- cer, his dad and a friend set to work trans­port­ing the mas­sive hive. Ol­lie had to learn to tune out the dull pulse of power tools right away. Any­one who knows Spencer — a do-it-your­selfer to his core — would ex­pect noth- ing less.

While in­nocu­ous honey bees had taken up res­i­dence above the fire­place, hor­nets com­man- deered the lower part — and were get­ting in­side through a gap in a fire­place grate. Not go­ing to lie to you: I don’t know the par­tic­u­lars. As Spencer de­scribed the scope of the sit­u­a­tion, I went to my happy place . . . a sun-drenched trop­i­cal is­land where bugs are banned. (Books and baked goods are, of course, manda­tory.)

Time, pa­tience and bee­keeper suits al­lowed the guys to rid us of the bees, and I thought I’d seen the end of our fire­place trou­bles. A bird will change all that.

I no­ticed it first: a lit­tle wren or spar­row, maybe. Prob­a­bly small enough to fit in my hand — though I wasn’t about to lose a fin­ger find­ing out.

“There’s a bird!” I screamed. “A bird in the fire­place!”

My brother-in-law, re­lax­ing on the sofa, was non­plussed. “Huh,” he said. “How about that.”

I stared at the pan­icked lit­tle fella while con­tin­u­ing to feed Ol- iver, who munched on his Puffs without a con­cern in his baby world.

My hus­band stepped into the up­stairs hall. “Spencer,” I shout- ed, not able to keep the edge from my voice. “Spencer, we have a sit­u­a­tion!

“It’s not the baby,” I quickly cor­rected. “It’s a . . . bird.”

Af­ter as­sess­ing the prob­lem, Eric and Spencer worked out a plan to get our feath­ered friend out of the en­closed glass. But that plan didn’t work. Af­ter many at­tempts at crack­ing open the door just enough to cap­ture it, Mr. Wren-Spar­row saw an open­ing and flew the coop. Lit­er­ally.

The bird im­me­di­ately went for a large win­dow in the kitchen — di­rectly be­hind Oliver and me. I saw it whizzing to­ward us and ducked, scream­ing, as Eric and Spencer hur­ried be­hind to cap­ture it with gloved hands. Mr. Wren-Spar­row was safely re­leased back out­side, where I hope he quickly re­united with his birdie fam­ily.

I’m sure he dom­i­nated the din­ner con­ver­sa­tion at the nest that evening.

We all have our sto­ries to tell ...

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