Another xmas story, by Moomingway (From 2 years ago)

December 23, 2020 § Leave a comment

This was a story in a series of writings I hoped to produce with Moomingway as my pen name. In the spirit of the two components “Moomin” and “… way” of my pen name the story is both true and gentle and I love to share it. The incident took place already two years ago but its exceptional spirit made me think of it as what is the best in xmas stories.

It was a typical, quiet autumn day and I had stayed at home, finishing my novel, a story about a young physicist Johan, and his personal growth in the world of science and arts. Working upstairs, in our quiet country house I was immersed in the hard life of Johan and his sufferings in the academia, being trapped in the hostile situation there, and nowhere to run. Perhaps it was Johan’s sensitivity and his pains that had made me extra sensitive to hear the weak noise coming from above my head, from somewhere in the maze of ventilation pipes, hidden above the ceiling. Usually I don’t hear or see anything in my immediate surroundings when I write – the text and story carry me somewhere in the world of drama, closing my personal doors and windows of attention, but this time I could hear the weak noise, a very weak rattle like something moving back and forth in the pipes. I had to stop writing and move back to the real world.

This is the good side of living in the quiet countryside, you can enjoy the colors of the nature, changing every day and you can hear things. But when you do see or hear something peculiar, it’s your responsibility to do something about it. It is impossible to neglect a new, strange sound and there is nobody to call and explain it or to ask someone to come and take care of it, whatever it may be. It’s up to you to do something.

I stood up and started walking around the rooms, trying to locate the source of the sound. Then I heard something like small wings hitting the ventilation pipe walls, with a rather high frequency – a bird, a small bird. It did not chirp or peep. The pipe vents in our house need a better protection against these unlucky intruders.

I listened to the alarming sounds for a while and realized the creature was unable to find a way out from the pipe trap. It moved restlessly in its maze, from one place to another and then after some time it had moved to our bathroom, hitting its wings against the pipe walls, making audible noises above the fan in the ceiling, near to the shower cabin.

The fan is controlled by an automatic humidity sensoring system and I was relieved to notice the fan inside the pipe had not started – I was afraid the bird could get hurt by it. Every now and then the poor bird moved somewhere else trying desperately to find a way out.

An hour had already elapsed and I felt bad about the helpless bird, lost in the dark maze and I decided to open the fan system, hoping the bird could find its way out from there. But it was not simple as that. 

The fan block did not come off without disconnecting the power wires – it had 220V power line and I did not find the fuse. I had to be extra careful (being alone at home). Scrutinizing the unit and its electric wiring I noticed it was enough to disconnect only the hot line to detach the whole unit. I did not want the poor bird flying around, scared, in the flat and hurting itself against the windows and walls, or being electrocuted in the hanging hot wire. So, what to do?

I fetched a plastic bag and taped it on the ceiling, its opening facing the pipe outlet, closing it carefully against the ceiling so that there was only one way for the bird to go – into the bag. But the bird did not come there, and I followed its noise back to the living room, where there is a simple manually operated vent in the ceiling. I opened it and taped a bag there, too. I had two traps now.

Then I sat down and waited; this was not the time to write my novel but it did not prevent me from spending time with Facebook. An hour had gone and twice I heard the bird making noises in the bathroom but when I rushed there to see if it had fallen into my soft trap it moved somewhere else again.  I returned to the living room and waited, decided I would not give up what I had started. After about half an hour I heard a rattle from the bathroom and hurried there, but the bird had not fallen into the bag.

I remained standing there, under the bag, for a while wondering what to do, how to lure the bird into the bag. Then I started whistling, very, very softly, in order not to startle it, with no idea what bird dialect I was using but I could sense the poor bird was reacting to that and I noticed it was not afraid of my vocalizations. I tried to express a call, whatever that might be in the bird language.

Every time it started off, like moving away from the bathroom, I would make a very weak, repeating whistle like a baby bird (I imagined – an eagle sound had not worked, I guess). I did not really trust my bird language too much, so I also tried switching lights on an off to see which one it would prefer. The lights on made it move but it did not find the bag. Then I just stood there, waiting and whistling, and decided to use my experimental psychologist’s strategy, whistling more forcefully each time it came closer and in doing so, trying to reinforce its correct movements towards the bag trap. I was behaving like a baby bird calling its mother or father.

Three hours had already elapsed when the bird finally fell into my welcoming, soft bag and I was fast enough to close the bag and prevent the bird from escaping back to the pipe maze. It was a very lively small bird, shocked, for sure. I could not see it in the white bag, but it’s fast-flapping wings hitting the bag tickled my hand when I quickly carried it to the balcony, closing the door behind me, and opened the bag carefully to let it free – I was relieved and full of joy to see it fly nicely, far, far away and disappearing as a small dot into the dense forest in the horizon. I had only seen a glimpse of it and could not even discern its colors properly, something grayish-green-brown perhaps, and a yellowish beak but I remember the feeling of its flapping wings on my hands.  It was free and I hoped and believe now it survived.

Assembling the fan unit back to its place I had to be careful again, now with my joyous hand movements, making sure I did not the get a due punishment from the hot wire, reminding me that I’m indeed a psychologist, not an electric engineer.

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