The storm winds blew rough and ice-cold rains slanted across what should have been a festive celebration of arts and wine. The tents flapped in the breeze as the artisans hunkered down for the duration. The Man in Black strode through the mess like Death itself. The rain rolled off the leather on his back and shoulders even as it soaked into the wool felt of his hat.
He stopped when he saw the fledgling bird. Soaked to the skin, it laid on his back, claws to Jesus. The Man in Black scooped it up in his hands, felt how close to ice it was. He looked down upon it and murmured:
“Awww, the poor little thing.”
Okay, when it comes to looking scary, I can pull off the dour Man in Black thing, but when it comes to baby birds I am a cream puff. The Grove City Arts & Wine Festival was an ignominious wash-out, cold and wet and unpleasant. I found a fledgling sparrow at the base of a tree behind one of the tents. It was pretty much a sopping mass of down and naked feet.
I took the little darling back to bookseller’s tent where I was huckstering with a handful of other Central Ohio writers. As we waited for the weather to break, I built the bird a nest of paper napkins and secured it behind the display racks.
Eventually, the little twit warmed up enough to get rambunctious. Then, he jumped out of his nest, off the table and into the stream of ice-cold water that flowed through the gutter. I re-captured the bird, dried it off and set it to nest again. We went through the same cycle of warm, rinse, repeat a few times before I ultimately folded my tents and slipped away. I went to bed by six that evening, a shivering mess. I built the bird a nest in a super-size drink cup lined with toilet paper.
The next morning, my wife and I delivered the fledgling to the local wildlife rescue. The bird recovered but my reputation as the scary Man in Black never did.