I cradled the near-dead bird in my palm, it was the size of a chicken egg and felt warm, I could feel it breathing, though it had its eyes closed like it was wincing, fanning the air with its feet, pulling them in close, curling into a ball. It had a tuft of orange/yellow hair on its head, like a finch (my cat had nearly killed it and left it by the back door but I’d moved it to a garden bed—then thought I couldn’t be such a wuss about things, I had to go out and care for it): and I knew I should put it out of its pain but I couldn’t stand the logistics, there was no easy way: so I put it in the folds of a tarp by the hot tub, hoping it would either recover there or die a peaceful death, out of the cold and wind.
And when I got to the lake most of it was frozen over, something I’d never seen before: it wasn’t frozen enough you could walk onto it, just the top inch or so, like a skin of ice, enough to hold some fallen pine branches by the shore, suspended.
And I heard what sounded like a recording of birdsong, a really high-pitched chirping (wondered if there were birds trapped under the ice, but that didn’t make sense, how I could hear them calling like that): but it was no birdsong, just the sound of the ice shifting, some of it cracking, a queer, high-pitched chirp: and I squatted there by the shore with my iPhone recording it, then realized the last voice memo was from Germany last April at the spring beer festival with Eberhard, the night a group of teenaged girls tried to kick us out of our table because they had it reserved, and even though the time of their reservation hadn’t started yet they basically asked Eberhard if we wouldn’t mind leaving because there were a lot of them coming—and Eberhard shook his head no, it wasn’t time, and we both sat there quiet for a while nodding our heads, drinking, feeling old.
When I got back from the lake and onto the sofa, Roxy climbed on top of me and sat there with her lower lip puffed out the way she does sometimes, the look she cops now since we had a canine tooth pulled: and it makes her look like some mob character with a facial deformity, it adds to her menace—and the dog has the same lower lip look too, and I wonder if one of them picked it up from the other.