When I’m out and about in the city, I don’t plan my route even if I have a destination. I keep it loosely structured to allow for the whims of walking. If I’m out for a run or workout walk, I leave all decisions up to my feet, and they know that if presented with two options, one of which includes a dog, we take that one since that’s one of the major incentives to leave the house at all. Otherwise, we Robert Frost it (yes, I used his name as a verb and deserve censure), and see what happens.
September 21st was a workout walk. My only “goal” was Whole Foods on the way back, about a mile from home, to pick up some salad greens. Other than that, the city was my oy-ster and my only “rule” was Ten Thousand Steps Before Going Home, or TTSBGH, or, further, Titsburgh (you’re welcome).
My fleet feet took me down Central Park West. At the corner of 62nd and CPW, I saw a little bird on the sidewalk, on his side, and was glad that I’ve begun carrying a sheet of paper towel in my running belt for occasions like this.
I couldn’t tell if he was alive or not, but when I picked him up using the paper towel, he was warm and I could feel his tiny heartbeat, which made my own heart break and burst simultaneously. I talked to him, telling him it’s okay, it’s okay, little love, I’m taking care of you, and placed him in a square cement planter about hip height, several feet from where I found him. He rested among the plantings, and I instantly texted a friend who works with documenting birds who have crashed into buildings to ask how to handle this.
In the meantime, I Googled the World Bird Fund, on Columbus Avenue, and read what to do. I needed a paper bag to put him in, to transport him to the WBF for whatever attention he needed, which opened at 9:00, about an hour and a half away. I told him I’d be right back and ran to Whole Foods at Columbus Circle, bought two containers of salad greens using self checkout, where I procured the bag that was the real reason for my trip. I dashed back to 62nd and CPW to help him, praying he was still there.
He was there, and had moved from where I’d positioned him on his side, to an upright roosting position, much more alert. I opened the bag to scoop him into it and fold it over twice, per the WBF instructions, to walk him up Columbus Avenue. (My friend had messaged me back while I was running back and forth from Whole Foods, and I updated her on my progress.)
When I made contact with his little body with the paper towel, he flew away without hesitation, his wings flapping strongly, and flew across Central Park West to the park side!
I flailed with so much delight that I almost took flight as well, and clapped my hands, and said, “Good boy! Good boy! Good boy! Go! Go! Go!”, tearful and grinning like an absolute lunatic, gazing off into the part of the world where my little charge headed, relieved, elated, and filled with awe for his resilience and pluck.
I named him Thor in that moment, because it was a Thursday, he was a mighty warrior (even if he may have been a she), and he swung the hammer of his beautiful wings into the heavens like a tiny god.