I love it when the story comes to me. As in, physically comes to me. Well, by me, I suppose, in this case.
Earlier this afternoon on the way home from school, I turned into my neighborhood and waited while a school bus and car drove past before pulling into my driveway.
“What to write about?” I muttered to myself. I had been thinking about a topic over the course of the day, but just wasn’t feeling it. I was, however, apparently talking to myself about it.
Spending the day inventorying equipment wasn’t exactly inspirational, the day’s drives were uneventful (okay, I’m normally good with that), and I was at a loss.
As I turned the engine off, my phone gave a quiet ding, letting me know an email had arrived. This afternoon in my part of north Alabama was absolutely beautiful–upper 60s, not a cloud in the sky, a gentle breeze–and I wasn’t about to sit in my little truck reading an email. I opened the car door, stood up in the driveway, and turned my head down to my phone.
I read the short note, and the thought crossed my mind that I still didn’t have a story. It wasn’t that kind of email.
As I slowly brought my head up, though, I was surprised to see a black streak cross my line of vision just a few feet ahead of me. Within the span of just a few seconds, there was another, yet another, and then more, many more. Suddenly, hundreds more.
Without trying, I had gotten out of my truck, stood motionless, and placed myself in the flight path of a large flock of grackles that were making their way through the neighborhood to land in my side and back yards, many of them less than a few dozen feet from me.
Their bullet-shaped bodies with fixed wings came gliding in for a landing, silent except for the occasional call, graceful and beautiful as the sun glinted off of black and deep purple feathers. I was stunned, and only the clipped beginning of a laugh came from my mouth as I did my best to remain unthreatening to the flock.
Once the birds were on the ground, the air erupted with the cacophony of hundreds of individual voices all calling out in unison. My dumbfounded disbelief turned to awe, and I silently revelled in the glory of what was going on all around me.
Inevitably, after just a few seconds an unseen neighbor slammed a car door, and I knew in that instant what was about to happen. Hundreds of wings beat the air in unison, each pair of them lifting the body of a bird into the sky. The sound reminded me of countless flags battered by the winds of a gale, or the raucous applause of innumerable gloved hands.
And it was over. They were gone, over the treeline and into parts unknown and out of my sight.
After a few seconds, I was able to breathe.
“Thank you,” I whispered and turned back to the truck for my book bag.