Caussey's Corner

Caussey’s Corner: The Beat of a Texas Sparrow’s Heart

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Saturday is my special day. In the morning, I putter around the kitchen fixing a light breakfast of fruit and cereal. Over the next few hours I nurse a large cup of cocoa accompanied by stacks of hot buttered toast. After watering the plants and handling a few other mundane but needed chores, I get out my journal and work for a few hours. I am attempting to finish a play that has consumed my spare energy for some time, but have lacked the encouraged-time needed to finish it. Sometimes I take a walk near the lake to help refresh my mind about the play.

This Saturday, though sunny, the wind was strong from the north, gusting to such a degree that the young and winter-barren pear tree near the fence danced to the songs of the ancient ones who once celebrated their own mid-winter season at the Stonehenge festival. The green shutters on the upstairs side of the house shuddered as airflow caressed the quarter panes causing them to moan the cry of a sea hag heard for generations off the coast of Madagascar. Leaves long ago cast away by burdened elm and oak trees are whirled in mass forms like hordes of angry ants against the glass window that protects the brightly lit kitchen.

Since I probably will not conclude the project before Christmas, I have decided that when I take my annual post-Christmas trip to the Texas coast, I will pledge on my once occupied rabbit’s foot to finish the play by the New Year.

Now the demon wind whirls around the house, serenading my spirit and summoning my mind to wonder away from the project at hand. Then something hits the sliding glass door in the breakfast room. I suspect I am being teased to stray from my work and relieve the doorframe from a tree branch or other alien object that has become a projectile forced by the wind.

Caussey's Corner: The Beat of a Texas Sparrow's Heart

Photo:  @rohane via Twenty20

Looking out the glass door, I see nothing but playful leaves and bent-over top branches of the trees in the woods beyond the slumbering jasmine laden hedgerow. I open the door with the wind accosting my face, while cleaning my chin and lips of toast crumbs entangled in my late morning whiskers.

There on the patio lay a wounded sparrow. He lay on his side; the one visible eye was filled with fear. The wind blew against his feathers as he lay on the cold concrete trembling.

For some reason he had flown into the patio door glass injuring himself. I could tell he was a male by his markings, yet just beyond the juvenile stage. I picked him up carefully, cupping him in my hand, and returned to the warmth of the breakfast room.

The sparrow’s head rested on his breast and his eyes were closed. He was cold and felt dead. But beneath these external signs of death I could feel the heart beat of the little sparrow. After several minutes he raised his head and opened his eyes. Fear had fled, transplanted by the feat of wonder. He nestled down, appearing to slumber. His heart rate slowed, but beat stronger.

I sat there, holding him gently. “Well, you are a cute little guy, but not particularly smart flying into a glass window,” I said out loud. Then I remembered last spring when I had run into the garage door nearly knocking myself unconscious. “Well, things like that can happen to the best of us,” I concluded.

In a few minutes, he began to stir. His heartbeat was strong and steady. My own heartbeat seemed to join his and felt as those they were beating as one. Then he looked at me. Sparrow eye to human eye. I released him from my cupped hand, but he refused to move. I sat him on the table, propping him up with a Christmas napkin. He stepped aside, removing himself from the napkin snare. He hopped to the table’s edge and stopped. He again looked at me. I knew what he wanted. We went outside to the patio. I placed him on my finger. The wind made the extended finger unsteady, but he took to flight, landing on the fence near the pear tree He sat there wavering for a moment and then he was gone.

The next day I stood at the sink, finishing up some pinto beans I had cooked overnight to carry to the church for the after-service meal. I looked out the window just in time to see a flock of sparrows land in unison on the fence that separated my yard from the neighbor’s. Seeing my movement through the window they rose and flew away. All except one. He sat there alone facing the north morning wind looking at me. Then he too flew away.

Could he have been my sparrow? I know. Because my heart was beating fast. Beating as one.

Durhl Caussey is a syndicated columnist who writes for papers across America. He may be reached at this paper or at [email protected]. This column is from the author’s archives.