Big Bird in the City

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Scene One : It is a dark, cold and rainy afternoon, the kind of day that keeps people inside. But she has been indoors too much lately and needs to get out. She decides to go for a walk, taking advantage of the abandoned streets. With no real destination in mind, she turns a corner and enters a narrow alleyway, bordered by the backs of buildings on either side. Suddenly, like from out of nowhere, there is a swoop of wings and a huge bird is flying right towards her. It swerves right, passing so quickly, leaving no more than five feet between its outstretched wing and the woman’s head. It lands on top of a light post and perches there, giving her a chance to snap a few pictures with her small camera. Walking away, her path is littered with pigeon feathers, blowing softly in the wind.

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Scene Two : (Two weeks later) The woman is at home with a plastic shower cap on her head, beneath which is her hair covered in warm oil; a hot oil treatment is in the works. The phone rings, it is her husband who is just outside, having returned from an appointment. He tells her to quickly get her camera and come outside. There is something she has to see. She rushes to change her pajama bottoms for track pants (that pair that is just a bit too wide and a smidgen on the short side) and buttons up her old baggy sweater. On her feet she wears some big and clunky foam Croc clogs. They make great and very comfortable footwear for around the house but she has vowed to herself to never go out in public in them. But there is no time to find socks and lace on proper shoes. She grabs a knitted hat from the top of the bin that is sitting there, ready to be put away for the summer and pulls it onto her head, completely covering the shower cap. It is a striped hat, orange and brown, with a big pompom on top.

This is not a good look but out she goes into the street to see what it is that must be seen : A hawk is on a rooftop nearby, dining on a pigeon. She takes pictures of it, trying to avoid the moments when there is a dead carcass dangling from its hooked beak.

People begin to gather and watch. Then more people come; a small crowd forms. She is embarrassed in her ridiculous ensemble and sneaks back inside her home.

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Postscript : Hawks are among the fastest creatures on earth. They are not a common sight in Toronto, although being migratory birds they do pass through in the spring and fall, on their way to and from their breeding grounds. They are carnivorous and (clearly) enjoy pigeon.

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