It was 4:30 on Saturday afternoon. The birds were all out of their houses and I was sweeping the floors. As I stepped outside to empty the dustpan into the green bin, Oboe slipped through the door with me.
And whoosh! Just like that, he was gone.
I watched as he flew down the street and around the corner. I dropped my dustpan and ran after him.
He was way up in a tall tree. I could hear him, but I couldn’t see him. I’d call his name, and he’d call back. I kept calling and looking, and he kept answering. A woman suggested treats. I ran home and got his safflower seeds but he wouldn’t come down for them either.
Then he flew out of the tree, across the parking lot, over the houses and out of sight. I ran after him, but I couldn’t see him or hear him anywhere. I ran up and down the street calling him. “Oboe! Oboe! Oboe!”
A toddler tried to help. “Bobo! Bobo! Bobo!”
Finally I went home and phoned GC, who was expecting me at his place for dinner. I put Kazoo and Simon back in their houses, and moved Oboe’s house out to the front porch. Maybe he would see it and fly to it.
I walked around, calling Oboe and noticing for the first time how many trees there are in my neighbourhood. It was like looking for the proverbial needle in the haystack.
By this time I was starting to realize I might never see him again, which would be okay if he was going to live free and happy. But he would probably perish during the night because of the cold, and he would die lonely and scared and cold and hungry. That just broke my heart.
I tried to cheer myself up by reminding myself of all the things I wasn’t going to miss. I wasn’t going to miss him pooping in my hair and biting me for no reason and eating my books and chewing wires and teasing Duncan and annoying GC. (GC and Oboe have a bit of a love/hate relationship.)
But still. He’s a little bird with a big personality and I’ve loved him since he was an egg.
Then I heard him calling me from down a side street. I tracked him down to a tall tree behind a construction site. I called, he called, back and forth, back and forth.
He flew to a shorter tree. There were dozens of birds in it. They’d never seen a lovebird before, and they didn’t know what to make of him. All they knew for sure was that he wasn’t scared of them, so they’d better be scared of him. They abandoned their tree.
I kept calling him and he flew down to a parked pickup truck, just a few feet from me. Then he flew from the truck to the top of my head! I was so happy. But we still had to get home, and he wasn’t going to let me carry him. I had to trust him not to fly off my head.
Half a block later he flew back to the same tree. I went back and called him. Eventually he landed on my head, then dropped down to my shoulder and chirped cheerfully. A man came out of his house and said he’d watched the whole thing from his back porch, and it was the coolest thing he’d ever seen.
I reached up and stroked Oboe’s feathers and he allowed me to wrap my fingers around him. I had him. He was safe. I smothered him with kisses as I hurried home, then I put him in his house, which was still on the front porch.
GC arrived at that moment. He helped me bring the cage inside. I crouched down and whispered sweet nothings to Oboe.
GC got all choked up.
“I’m just crying because he came back,” he said. “I thought we were finally rid of him!”