Tag Archives: panic

Homeward Bound: Palm Beach to Ettalong.

No doubt, all weekends away end up feeling like Cinderella’s horrific crash landing after the ball. You’re back in rags, your coach is a pumpkin and both you and Prince Charming are so quite what you used to be.

My weekend in Palm Beach was no different and once I’d polished off that divine chocolate cake and all that luscious chocolate sauce, I was on borrowed time and the clock was really ticking.

Tick-tock..tick-tock…tick! TICK! BZZ!!!!!! Game Over!!!!!

space_invaders_wallpaper_game_over_by_shadowbott-d5rxcn6

However, as the rain and wind whipped around, a lingering doubt emerged. Could the ferry service actually be cancelled?

If so, how on earth was I going to get home?

No ferry would stretch the 30 minute journey home into an extremely long, arduous, meandering journey involving 2 buses, 2 trains and not only a packed lunch but also dinner and possibly even a midnight snack.

This was obviously a serious concern!!

However, as if I would travel all that way when I could just stay another night and wait until the storm cleared! Yeah, right!! I could just imagine how well that would go down! There I was living it up in Palm Beach while Geoff had been at work and taxiing the kids around and then he’d be having to take time off work as well to get them to school. Yes, I’d be extremely popular!!

Indeed, it could even be grounds for divorce!

We’ve been on some pretty ragged rides on the ferry before, crossing the high seas where the waves loomed like skyscrapers overhead and our beloved ferry felt more like Scuffy the Tugboat, seemingly tossed like a salad in the ferocious  surf.  Of course, the kids who have a real penchant for melodrama, were freaking out about sinking, drowning and, of course,  even dying while the ferry plowed on through the drenching rain and heavy winds. Ghostly white and sitting on our laps wrapped up in our arms, the kids are vowing never to catch the ferry again. That was a few years ago now before they became intrepid sea scouts!

The ferry service was cancelled for the rest of the day after that.

I was concerned about the ferry being cancelled on Sunday too.  Sure, I know we’re not crossing notorious Bass Strait of Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race fame but the weather still gets wild enough. Wild enough to cancel the ferry. That’s right. There comes a point when even the most intrepid Palm Beach Ferry Captains hang up their hats and stay on terra firma.

However, I’m in luck. The ferry is running and although the weather is a little rough and wet, it remains quite civilised.

Sunset Palm Beach Wharf...so pleased that bird dropped into the shot!

Sunset Palm Beach Wharf…so pleased that bird dropped into the shot!

A friend from Church drops me off at the wharf with 15 minutes to spare where I can enjoy watching some people fishing while the sun sets. I am reminded of Ernest Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea. However, the keen fisherperson is a woman and she knows her stuff. With the precision of a plastic surgeon, she wraps up a cooked prawn in some plastic netting salvaged from a bag of fruit and pushes the hook through. That prawn won’t come off without a fight, so the fish will have to work a bit harder tonight if they want a free feed!!

At 6.15pm, this is the last ferry and in contrast to yesterday’s rowdy party atmosphere, the ferry is almost empty. There’s just a few weekend stragglers on board and pure silence. You could even meditate it was that quiet. Talk about a contrast!! We all sit inside…even me who is all but always out there on deck pushing the limits with my camera. Too wet, too windy and way too bumpy tonight. Time to take it all in through the rain-stained window.

The View through the Window- Palm Beach Ferry.

The View through the Window- Palm Beach Ferry.

As the ferry started approached Ettalong Wharf, I was looking out for Geoff and the kids and really looking forward to their enthusiastic greetings: “Mummy! Mummy!” and finding out how their scout camps went. These are the sort of exciting moments you live for as a parent: warm, gutsy hugs, smiles, laughter and a thousand stories all spilling out at once. That’s the thing about going away. As much as you protest against the homeward journey, we all know: “There’s no place like home!!”

The Palm Beach Ferry returns to near deserted wharf at Ettalong as the weekend draws to a close.

The Palm Beach Ferry returns to near deserted wharf at Ettalong as the weekend draws to a close.

However, when the ferry pulled into the wharf, there was no one there. The wharf was empty, deserted and not even a sign of our car anywhere. No enthusiastic waves. No hugs. No Mummy!!! Just the sun setting over a deserted beach and the sounds of the wind and the surf.

I knew I was being a bit ridiculous, especially after it was me who actually went away for the weekend. However, there was this residual small voice which I’d thought had disappeared long ago:

“Nobody loves me!”

It’s not that I’m looking for sympathy or even a chorus of: “where were they? Why weren’t they there to pick you up? How dare they!” I mean…it’s not like I cried or anything. However, after building up the big greeting all the way home and really looking forward to seeing the rest of the family, I did feel a bit sad, forgotten and (drum roll)  ABANDONED!!

Serves me right for going away for the weekend without them. This was karma and a taste of what it’s really like to be alone.

As it turned out, the family wasn’t far away and had got held up at scouts. Geoff and the kids had been unloading boats, kayaks and all sorts of paraphenalia from their weekend competing at the Sirius Cup at Sydney’s Balmoral Beach. That’s all. Nothing sinister!

Mister poking out his tongue while scouting at the Sirius Cup, Balmoral Beach.

Mister poking out his tongue while scouting at the Sirius Cup, Balmoral Beach.

Mister had had great fun and made it into the finals for the C2 at the Sirius Cup, which means a 2 person canoe. We were so proud..particularly as he’d overcome his fear of sharks and other nasties and gone for it!! Miss had done really well at her Cub leadership course too. However, there are unfortunately no photos.

A reflective moment during scout camp.

A reflective moment during scout camp.

It’s been a fabulous weekend. Absolutely fabulous!!

Geoff even managed to watch the Grand Prix! Unfortunately, it wasn’t Australian race champion, Daniel Riccardo’s day.

Boo who! Tomorrow…it’s back to yet another manic Monday morning. I’m going to need a pretty strong coffee to get me going. It’s going to be like raising the Titanic.

The Monday morning salvage routine is going to be tough!!

The Monday morning salvage routine is going to be tough!!

xx Rowena (and a few extra kilos after that chocolate cake!!)

 

Tai Chi and the Fork in the Road

I don’t know about you but most of the time, I miss the huge fork stuck right in the middle of the road and just keep driving.

With my head up in the clouds or all my thoughts wrapped up in some creative project, it’s not surprising. I’ve been accused of living in my own little world…my own bubble…often enough.

This week, on the other hand, the fork was so big…so glaringly obvious that even I couldn’t miss it.

In my last post, I wrote about my daughter wanting me to take up physie. After she suggested we go roller skating together, I’ve since realised that she just wanted us to do things together and so I’ve been let off the hook.

So while I’ve scratched physie off the list, going through those thought processes made me realise that I really need to pick up some form of regular exercise. Exercise is quite problematic for me so choosing something suitable isn’t easy.

You might recall that I actually mentioned Tai chi in my last post.

Well, the very next day, I was driving home and I saw a huge sign in front our local community centre: “Beginner Tai Chi Classes”. I couldn’t believe it. It was like that sign was put there just for me and I knew it. The classes are even on during the day at a very convenient time. Moreover, just as I was wondering how I could possibly remember the phone number, I realised that it was only two digits different to our phone number. How easy was that?

When things are meant to be, they are really meant to be. Everything comes together so smoothly without any effort like a huge enormous present just left on your doorstep. Freaky!

Today, I even called the number. That was an achievement!

We all know that it’s one thing to see a sign. It’s another thing to know that glaring neon sign was put there for you. But it’s a huge, enormous step to actually pick up the phone and make the call!

I did it!

Now, I’m on my way only I can’t get there for two weeks. This is a serious hurdle. Everyone knows that when you close the deal, you need immediate action…no time or space to back out and reconsider…or forget.

I have to remind myself that I am committed to doing anything to improve my health and when I say anything that means everything. No holes barred. It means being 100% focused, which for me is going to be almost impossible considering I’m spread pretty thin at the moment but I can only do my best.

If Tai Chi only lives up to half its claims, things will be looking up. The Australian Tai Chi website suggests:

‘From a psychological point of view, Tai Chi helps release emotional tensions, increases concentration and awareness and decreases stressful psychological and physiological reactions… One becomes more centred, more at peace with oneself and less subject to outside influences.” http://www.taichiaustralia.com.au/TaiChi/Benefits.htm

After some of the clashes I’ve had with my son lately, being less affected by outside influences sounds absolutely fabulous!!

Tai Chi will be a dramatic shift for me.

For anyone who knows me, the thought of me doing anything relaxing that requires silence, concentration and no talking, is mission impossible… a complete joke. I even manage to strike up in depth conversations with my dentist during root canal therapy. I get restless waiting for trains. I just can’t sit still. I’m always moving, talking, thinking, planning, pondering. I have no idea what it’s like to just BE!

I need to find out! This really could be radically life changing. I know that. I need to keep reminding myself of that like a mantra so I’ll really take it seriously:

 

Rowena you are going to go to Tai Chi.

You are going to go to Tai Chi.

You are going to go to Tai Chi.

I know I’m sounding very serious and committed to this new direction but I’ve had very good intentions in the past. I’ve had the proverbial fork rammed right up my nose and yet still I’ve managed to ignore it. That takes serious effort and real commitment.

The Neon Fork.

Last year, I had every intention of getting into yoga and meditation. One afternoon a week, I used to take my kids to swimming lessons where I chatted poolside with a yoga instructor. If ever there was someone who needed to do yoga, it was me a year ago. Despite all these good intentions, I never quite got there. I even wrote a poem about these good intentions…about how you find the acorn. Put it in your pocket with every good intention of planting it but the poor old acorn gets left in your pocket. Goes through the wash. Gets left by the bed. It goes on a grand royal tour but never finds its way into the ground.

That’s me. Great intentions but I struggle with implementation!

But that’s the old me. This is the new me and the new me is working overtime to convert good intentions not only into concrete actions but into life changing commitment. Change is all about the long-haul to be effective….perseverance in other words!

I am so good with all this motivational talk stuff but now I have to walk the talk or in this instance…Tai Chi it!

I am so determined to follow through on this, which is going to be difficult. As I said, I can’t get there for the next few weeks. It is hard enough to start a new path, especially one involving exercise but how can I possibly stick with it when I can’t get started straight away? This is going to take some serious willpower. Determination or perhaps a huge sign in my diary. “Tai Chi starts today”. I have to keep reminding myself.

This brings me to the following question… “If we know what we should
be doing something, why don’t we just do it? Why don’t we stick with it?

Does it mean we haven’t really decided? We still have a foot in both camps? Are we just lazy? I’m sure there is some fancy scientific equation for all of this. It might be Newton’s Law of Inertia? I like a law of inertia, by the way. I can be very inert at times although
you’d never know it. Everyone always comments on how I never stop but perhaps that is also a form of inertia. Bouncing around not doing the things you really ought to be doing.

It’s definitely avoidance.

Avoidance was a great thing in the days before we found out about brain plasticity. You could just decide that something wasn’t your thing and be done with it.

Now, we know that when we avoid something, that part of our brain is actually shrinking, putting us under enormous pressure to perform. Nobody likes the idea of a shrinking brain…especially when it’s your own brain that’s wasting away!

Avoidance isn’t the end of it either. When you avoid something, your brain shrinks but when you overdo it, your brain produces this superhighway of cabling. So you can’t just go and have a panic attack and get away with it anymore either. You have to be calm….otherwise your brain will look like an LA freeway with layers and layers of criss-crossing freeways looping around and around each other into a great big tangled knot of fear.
This is all very scary stuff.

That’s why I have just put a glaring note in my diary. Tai Chi starts today…Well make that the 12th of September. It’s written in red pen and I’ve committed myself with the World Wide Web as my witness. Now, I really do have to go ahead and do it.
Just two weeks to go…

Of course, as soon as I put the note in my diary, a meeting changed but it has brought things forward a week but put in a gap. Now I’m now wondering whether I should just wait three weeks so I can just get into some kind of rhythm. No Rowena. Don’t wait. Get started. This is exactly the sort of thinking that killed off yoga.

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.

Lao-tzu, The Way of Lao-tzu
Chinese philosopher (604 BC – 531 BC)

I wonder if he did Tai Chi…

How do you overcome procrastination? I’d love to hear your comments.

xx Rowena

You Can Count on Me…when a bird flew into my house.

And within myself I’ve heard
day and night
in the company of countless birds
a homeless bird speeding through light and dark
from one unknown shore to yet another.
On cosmic wings a refrain echoes through space:
‘Not here, no, but somewhere, somewhere else!’

TagoreHomeless Bird

“Mummy! Mummy! Come quickly!” Mister pleads skidding into the kitchen a mini-cyclone of raw energy. His arms and legs are flapping all over the place and he is either about to take flight or fall over both feet.

Something has captured his attention. That’s hardly unusual and I barely look up from my breakfast. Mister is an excitable, enthusiastic seven year old boy. He is always running or rushing somewhere.  Usually, he’s chasing lizards and he is pretty good at catching them too. They’re then shut into old Chinese containers and taken off to school for news and hopefully released. At the moment, he is madly pursuing White Cabbage Butterflies, chasing them all around the garden with his butterfly net. I reach out and try to stop him but the juggernaut just ploughs on and now I’m just trying to keep him away from the road. He doesn’t seem to care where he’s going.

Mister is still in his pyjamas even though he knows full well that he has to get dressed before he can play. He is also barefoot, even though he knows he’s not allowed outside without his shoes on. The back lawn is carpeted with jacaranda flowers at the moment no doubt buzzing with bees. He could get stung but possibilities and warnings won’t stop him. The  juggernaut will have to learn the hard way.

I suppose I should be putting something into time out but that hasn’t crossed my mind. I haven’t woken up yet.

It’s Monday morning and I’m slumped over the table like a sack of old potatoes. My Weetbix is stone cold and hardly inspirational and would really make great cement. My coffee, which is never strong enough, hasn’t percolated through yet.

“Mummy’s lost in space again,” Miss giggles. She’s about to shine a torch in my eyes… “Mummy! Mummy!”… No response. “Time of death…”

I don’t know where I am. I’m not up in space as in watching stars and planets or anywhere beyond the sky. It’s difficult to explain but I am somehow lost in the space just beyond my nose.

More coffee required.

“Mummy!” Mister repeats emphatically. He grabs hold of my arm and tugs hard almost jolting me out of my chair. “Mummy! Come on!” There is a real urgency in his voice…  a desperation. He is puffing, short of breath. However, he is just a little prone to exaggeration and I’m not quite sure whether I really need to move or not.

“Mummy! There’s a bird in the house and it’s stuck. Mummy, we’ve got to save it! Come on!”

Miss is dust.  She’s off to help… any excuse not to eat her breakfast!

Meanwhile, I am still motionless. Frozen to my seat, I can’t move.

“There is a bird in the house,” I gasp!

I can feel its wings flapping all around me… flapping in my face, in my eyes…. flapping, flapping, flapping. I can hear the bird from here. Its wings are beating against the glass desperately flapping, trying to get out. I have no compassion or empathy whatsoever for the poor stricken bird who can’t understand why it can’t fly through the glass. Instead, I feel like I’m about to die any minute myself if that damn bird doesn’t get out of my house! My entire body has turned to jelly wibbley wobbilly jelly with no spine whatsoever.

“Mummy! Come on!” I’m sure it’s only been a couple of seconds but for the kids, it’s the usually eternity and Mister is particularly persistent.

“Hurry up, Mummy! The bird is going to die!” He shrieks.

Miss joins in. “Mummy! Come on! We’ve got to save the bird!” she pleads in her wee, irresistible voice. Her big blue eyes are swelling with tears and her whole body is starting to quiver.  “It’s going to die!”She is now quite overwrought.

“Shit!” I think to myself. “Shit! Shit! Shit!”

“I’ll get it out!” Mister says matter-of-factly, taking matters into his own hands. He marches out the front with this look of focused determination. All of his senses are switched onto red alert. A man of action, he is going to do whatever it takes to save the bird. I mean whatever it takes and that’s what concerns me most. Any boy small enough to still call me Mummy, is usually more dangerous than useful in a crisis.

Mister returns with his stick….a little boy’s solution to almost any crisis. This isn’t good. I picture him poking the poor, exhausted bird with the stick, ever so kindly plunging the stick through its brain.

“I know what to do!” He is so confident and so sure of himself… full of boyish exuberance. He is trying to get the bird to jump onto the stick and use it as a perch but I don’t get it. I’m in too much of a flap myself. I just want the stick out of here before disaster strikes.

I still haven’t actually seen the bird. I can’t look but I can hear it. Feel its distress….the panic. It is absolutely petrified.

Miss grabs my hand and drags me towards the bird. She has such faith in me. I am MM… Mighty Mummy! I can do anything! I am fearless. Unstoppable. Incredible. I can almost leap tall buildings in a single bound.

Her faith is so misguided but how do I explain to her that big people, the people you trust with your very life, are also afraid? I’m supposed to be the strong one, tough, infallible. Do I dare admit that I’m weak too? That my feet are made of clay? Or that Mummy, even Mummy, could indeed be human?

I feel so incredibly small, such a little girl. I wish my dad was here and he could just come and take care of it all. I don’t want to be brave or have a personal growth experience. I just want to disappear. My legs are like jelly and I’m on the brink of collapse.  I am gripped by some very deep, very dark primeval fear. Fear so deep that it wraps its tentacles around me and drags me deep beneath the surface. I’m drowning in the darkness and I can’t breathe. There is no escape.

Things are really heating up around here!

I soon forget all my motivational talks to the kids about overcoming their fears. I forget all about daring Miss to climb to the top of the tower when she was paralysed halfway.  There is just this constant mantra repeating in my head “No! No! No! No! No!” It won’t budge.

But…but…I love birds and all living things. I want to help. I want to be the good Samaritan not the person who looks away, walks past and doesn’t give a damn. I want to make a difference. So many times, I have been the broken bird myself, dependent on someone else to save me and here I am powerless to act. Pathetic!

I take a deep breath and try to change the broken record in my head.

“I think I can. I think I can.” I take another deep breath and picture myself as my Dad grabbing a towel and taking action…  getting the bird out successfully and saving its life. I want to be the life saver, the hero….a winner, not a loser!

“Mister, put the stick down. Kids, please stand back. You need to be really quiet. We don’t want to frighten the bird.” I take a deep breath and muster all my strength and take charge of the situation. I am Dad. I can do it. (Deep breath!)  I grab an old towel and edge my way towards the bird. This is the first time I actually see the bird. It is still flapping it wings impotently and seems quite stuck between the chest of drawers and the glass sliding door. Armed with the towel, I plan to grab the bird and take it outside. It’s such a simple manoeuvre. I’ve seen Dad pull it off a number of times. Nothing to it! I try not to think about the bird wriggling and flapping in my hands… all that squirming. I try not to think of it escaping and flying around the room unable to be caught and flapping all over the place.  I am trying to be so strong and not catastophise this dire situation any further but I don’t like it. I wish Dad was here to take care of it! I feel so small and powerless just like a little girl.

But I have grown up and now I’m the one in charge…

I’m holding the towel. I brace myself and swoop down onto the bird. It resists all my rescue efforts, squarks and plunges from trapped to deeply trapped. It’s now firmly wedged in position and can barely move its wings at all. It twists and contorts its head and I’m concerned it’s going to break its neck and kill itself.

The kids are still hovering beside me. I am trying to keep everybody calm and perfectly still and a good arm’s length away from the bird when the dog barges in and the sliding door almost runs over the bird. The dog was the last distraction I needed. Being a sheep dog, it’s not his fault he’s been genetically pre-programmed to chase and kill but I don’t need him on the rampage right now!

I shut the dog out.

I tell the children to stand back.

Mummy is in charge…heaven help the poor bird. It doesn’t stand a chance.

I am thinking…thinking…!

I am thinking about all my ideas about community… people being there and supporting each other. So often I am the one being rescued and just this once I’d like to help! I feel this huge enormous inner tension like two armies running towards each other locked in heavy combat… love versus fear. I absolutely believe in caring for one’s fellow man, even if it is a bird. I love and often quote that phrase about how it takes a community to raise a child. Everybody has to do their bit. This is my bit. My challenge. My hurdle but I just can’t do it. I feel myself stretched and torn. Stretched and torn. If I do nothing, the bird is probably going to die.

It’s quite ironic. We have a worm farm and I’m doing my best to save the Earth and yet I can’t even save a bird just because it flaps! This isn’t what I stand for. It’s not what I’m about. I’m a rescuer…the ambulance driver…not a murderer! I don’t believe in guns and yet my neglect…it’s pulling the bloody trigger.

Despite my best intentions, however, I’m getting nowhere. Time to call in for reinforcements. There are times when it’s okay for even the most independent and strong-minded of women to admit she actually needs a man. Not that I’m fussy. It doesn’t have to be a man.  I just need someone, anyone, with just a little more courage than myself and is old enough to use it wisely.

I try to reach my husband, Geoff on the mobile. But it just goes through to voicemail. The train would have to be going through a tunnel right when we need him!

Then, I remember my friend Bill. He’s a single Dad and just lives a block or so away. Bill is always offering to help but I like to save these offers for the “Big Emergency”. I decided this was it. I needed help. I mention calling Bill to the kids and while I’m looking for his number Mister already has him on the phone. Bill must feel like he’s entered the twilight zone with Mister talking about the bird stuck in the house. It’s barely after 8 o’clock and if his son isn’t over, I’m sure he’s asleep. I try to grab the phone. Mister keeps talking. I finally manage to snatch it away.

“Bill!”I plead. “Help!”

Bill apologises profusely but his son his sick. He can’t leave the house.

Bill then asks me what type of bird it was. I’m not sure. I‘ve been trying not to look at it.  But there was definitely some yellow on its face and I suggest it’s a Noisy Minor. Bill wasn’t exactly encouraging: “There are way too many of those damn things already. You should just squash it. Do the world a favour.”

I wasn’t a fan of Noisy Minors either but I couldn’t just let it die! A bird is a bird…a life… something so precious … even if it is a pest.

Bill doesn’t come to the rescue.

I wonder whether WIRES would save a Noisy Minor or whether they just saved native birds.

Mister suggests the vet.

I just see dollar signs and try to think of something else.

That’s when I notice the clock. I’d forgotten all about getting the kids to school.

The bird drama has totally sabotaged our entire morning “routine”. My friend is due to pick up the kids in five minutes. Mister is still in his pyjamas. Miss has barely touched her breakfast and I need to make the lunches.

“Mister you need to get dressed. You have two minutes”.

I quickly throw their lunches together totally unable to think about anything except the bird. I am now less sympathetic. Pissed off that the bird had to have its crisis in my house not somewhere out in the bush where I didn’t have to get involved.

I rebuke myself. This is what community involvement is all about. It isn’t always convenient or comfortable.  You get intrusions. Have to go out of your way. Step beyond your comfort zone.

All these ideals are quite beyond me at the moment. I’d much rather be alone on a deserted island – especially an island without any birds as much as I love them from a distance!

My friend pulls up to take the kids to school. She sits so calmly in her four-wheel drive…such a picture of serenity while Mister’s still running all over the place trying to save the bird. He clearly doesn’t want to leave before the crisis has been resolved. I push him into the car and close the door. Shame he wasn’t just a little bit older. He would have saved the bird by now and spared me all this angst!

I know my friend has her own dramas but I can’t help feeling that our dramas are of quite a different magnitude.

Last week, while the dog was chasing his tennis ball, he actually managed to get his head stuck in between the back steps. It was wedged in with barely a centimetre free and he was banging and bashing his head around trying to get it out with brute force. This time, I managed stay quite calm and collected and actually managed to be useful. I reassured the dog, amidst all the kids’ screams and tears, and managed to get his head out the same way it went in.  A few weeks ago, Miss had managed to get her skinny little arm stuck in the huge glass sliding doors at the RSL club. That was after an “All You Can Eat” lunch and she was still wafer thin afterwards, squeezing into the smallest of gaps she should never have fitted into.

The bird fits in well here. It doesn’t just fly into the house and do circuits round the room like a normal bird. Oh no! It had come in here and get stuck. Do something different just like everybody else! Amen!

Weird stuff always happens to us.

My mother always says we were born under an unlucky star.

I just think we come from a different planet.

I wave goodbye to the kids and the car takes off.

Now, it’s just me and the bird… and the dog!

Responsibility….so far I’ve just blamed myself for this mess but what about the bird? Did I invite the bird inside? Is it my fault? Oh no! Of course not! The bird got itself into this mess. It had nothing to do with me. If this had happened somewhere out there in the bush, the bird would have had to save itself. Save itself… or die! Perhaps, I should just ignore it.

But I just can’t turn my back. I am the Good Samaritan. I will not walk past. But I can’t move either. My fear is so intense that I can’t even step inside the room anymore. I am so afraid. I can hear the poor bird flapping….still flapping! I tell myself it could be one of the kids but it’s useless. My kids don’t have wings.  They don’t flap. I’d be happy to save them.

I think about helping people. I think about how much I love birds. I think about how I’ve longed to be a bird flying through the sky and experiencing the exhilaration of flight. Not this bird feeling trapped, tortured and so afraid.

The bird is still fighting. Its will to live is so strong, all-consuming. It will not give up! I glance at it again. So twisted, in such agony!  I can’t bring myself to look anymore.

I try once again to reach my husband on the mobile. He’s on the train and must almost be at work by now. He’s too far away to come home but he’s a great problem-solver. He’d know what to do.

Once again the phone goes through to voicemail.

I am on my own.

I am now starting to think that the bird will just have to die in there. I tried. There’s nothing more I could do.  Yet, the prospect of having a dead bird in the house doesn’t thrill me either. I hate dead things. I remember when my goldfish died as a kid. Dad had to fish it out and bury it. I couldn’t even look at it.

I haven’t got any better. It’s not that I’m unfeeling or insensitive. More the opposite. I’m completely overwrought.

But somehow, I couldn’t just give up on the bird either. I didn’t want the bird to die. I didn’t want to be the one who had turned her back too gutless to act. I didn’t want to let my fear, my silly, petty fear cost the bird its life. I didn’t think about its family or friends and how they would feel if the bird never came home but I should have.

I couldn’t give up. I had to find someone. Anyone!

That’s when George, my neighbour across the road, pottered outside to water his plants. He had no idea what he was stepping into. I didn’t give him a chance to say no. George was the man… the rescuer…the knight in shining armour.  He had to act whether he liked it or not. Now, the bird’s fate rested on his mighty shoulders and I was off the hook!

George wasn’t bothered by the bird. However, however, there was the matter of my dog…

Bilbo who normally lounges round the house like a somnolent floor rug, hates George. He just needs to open his front door all the way across the street, for Bilbo to go ballistic barking furiously and gnashing his teeth. I don’t know what goes through Bilbo’s head but he definitely has it in for George and George has every reason to be “afraid” of the dog.

George gingerly inched his way inside while Bilbo was still locked out and the bird remained trapped.

George very logically points out that we can’t get the bird out while with the door shut. I should have thought of that myself but I’m not good with practicalities! He tells me to take Bilbo through to the front of the house and to shut him out there and then we open the back door. Good thinking 99!

Strangely, Bilbo didn’t bark at the bird and he didn’t bark at George either. Instead, he dropped his ball at the back door hoping George will throw it for him. I admire his optimism. Bilbo never gives up!

The bird is looking better now and has almost managed to free itself. I can now see that it’s some sort of Honey-Eater, not a Noisy Minor after all. However, this new found identity doesn’t change how I feel about the bird. I am still petrified and I’m still trying to save its life.

We open the sliding door in anticipation and I hand George the towel. Instead of grabbing the bird, the bird flies off. Instead of doing the logical thing and flying outside, it starts flying around the room…round and around and around in a mad flapping frenzy. I am going absolutely out of my mind!

It was bad enough when the bird was stuck in but free-range is so much worse. I’m suddenly having flashbacks. I’m in famous Dam Square in Amsterdam being dive bombed by swarms of pigeons. Yes, I know I bought the pigeon food and I fed them but I was so unprepared for the aftermath… all those flapping wings descending on me… squadron after squadron. In a scene straight out of Alfred Hitchcock’s horror classic:  The Birds, I could barely move let alone breathe.

This one bird has now multiplied into something quite beyond description but I’m not catastrophising at all. This is a complete catastrophy!

The bird, who I forget is probably more terrified than I and also rather exhausted after its ordeal, flies into my laundry basket. I am excited. Jubilant! The end is finally in site.  Now, we just need to throw the towel over the basket and take it outside… Simple Simon.

But George has other ideas. He encourages the bird to fly outside unaided. After all it does have wings. It can actually save itself now.

At last, the bird flies straight out the door and is gone!

Gone! Problem solved.

But I wasn’t so sure. Was it really okay? It had been fighting for its life for over an hour. Did it need help or was it okay flying back outside into the wild?

I didn’t find out. I didn’t want to find its tiny body lying in the grass. The bird just had to be fine.

I’m still in shock… emotionally crippled, shattered, barely standing up at all. The terror is still stuck to me like a second skin, a parasite, it’s roots penetrating deep into my being. I can’t just pry it off and return to any state approaching “normal”. It takes a good hour before I can go anywhere near the crime scene again.

Instead, I return to the safety of the kitchen and make myself a good cup of tea – Twinings English Breakfast in my Royal Albert Old Country Roses tea cup. I also grab a Tim Tam …. my solution to just about any crisis!

Geoff finally checks his voicemail and calls back.

“You should have shut the blinds,” He says. “Opened the door and just let it find its own way out,” he says. “Imagine how you’d feel with this great big beast hovering over the top of you?!! It was probably trying to get away from YOU!”

I laughed. I actually managed to laugh. “I’d never thought of that. I was too busy trying to save it!”

Soon, my mind starts drifting out the window again. A light breeze is dancing through the Jacaranda tree. Its purple flowers nod up and down, falling like snow and carpeting the ground underneath. I smile. The white butterflies are now fluttering around the garden in peace – without a little boy and his butterfly net chasing them out of existence! They’re looking for somewhere to lay their eggs…  no doubt, someone’s much-prized veggie patch. Just what some poor green thumb needs… more very hungry little caterpillars!

Such is life…