‘My lifesaving skills are for the birds’
Remember Sully Sullenberger? He is the pilot I always want piloting whatever plane I happen to be on. (I always check for a sort of older guy with a mustache when I get on an aircraft). Because Sully is the pilot who safely landed that plane smack-dab in the middle of the Hudson River and didn’t lose a single soul.
In case you don’t happen to live in New York where this happened right under our noses in the middle of a work day (meaning we will never ever forget about it), that was the plane that had an unfortunate encounter with a flock of birds shortly after takeoff from LaGuardia. The Control Tower Guys told him to head for this little airport in New Jersey called Teterboro. But Sully knew in his Experienced-Pilot’s Heart that if he did, scores of New Jerseyites on the ground would be toast as well as everyone on his plane, so he ‘landed’ on the Hudson instead. Fasten your seat belts and check this out. Wow.
Just look at those people standing on the wings of that not-sinking, not-disintegrating plane! Bless that Sully. He even walked up and down the darned aisles–twice–to make sure everybody got off before he ‘deplaned’. Sigh. Put him at the controls of any plane I happen to be economy-classed onto, thank you very much. I don’t care how old he is. I am in Pilot Love. Ooops. He’s retired and giving speaking tours. Darn.
Well, time to turn to my tale for today. It also involves a crash landing onto a body of water. And birds. And a nod to a recent post called ‘The Motorcycle Diaries’.
See, out on Long Island, where our house is, we happen to have a pool. And a tree right by the pool that, for that spring anyway, happened to have a robin’s nest in it.
The Dude and I rather enjoyed the robins and their nest, sometimes referring to it fondly. ‘Oh, those little blue eggs sure are pretty’, and ‘I wonder when the little birds will hatch’, and, finally, ‘Look, the Parent Robins are teaching the babies to fly! How sweet!‘
Anyway. One afternoon, while I was performing some household chore (stripping beds? de-mildewing the shower?) I heard a major ruckus outside. It sounded like two hysterical parents shrieking at an endangered child.
A glance out the window confirmed that it was in fact two hysterical parents shrieking at an endangered child. The Adult Robins were screeching their beaks off while bouncing along the edge of the pool. I looked closer and saw that, yup, one of their babies had plopped, US-Air-style, in the middle of the Hudson River (er, our lap lane).
The poor little guy had his wings spread wide and was floating–for the moment, anyway. I dropped my Softscrub, raced downstairs, grabbed the pool net thingie and scooped the rapidly-sinking birdie out of the water and deposited him gently onto the grass. Where he looked rather stunned, but reasonably okay. (Whew!)
I picked him up and was heading for the nest to put him back when, speaking of ‘heads’, BAM! Something that felt like a 5-pound bag of sugar hit me smack-dab in the back of mine, causing me to drop the baby. It was Father Robin, and he was definitely not grateful for my Sully-like act of heroism on behalf of his child.
Well. I really wanted to get that baby out of the grass and back into his nest before the feral cats got wind of him. But I also didn’t want another smack-upside-the-head from Mr. Robin. So what did I do? I donned my motorcycle helmet–the one I use when tooling around on my Mother’s-Day-Gift Vespa—marched myself right back out there and put that baby where he belonged. Ta-da!
All’s well that ends well, baby-bird-wise. The crash-lander dried out nicely and, ultimately, flew off into the sunset. But, unlike Sully, I didn’t get a medal or a book tour. Nor did I get to appear at the Robin equivalent of the Super Bowl or have a cocktail named in my honor. (Yes, you can order a ‘Sully’, which consists of two shots of Grey Goose vodka and a splash of water.) But I like to think that somewhere out there is a very grateful, very wise, adult robin who is teaching his own young to fly. And also to swim.
New York City. May 2015