My husband Peter and I were at my parents’ cabin in the woods. The weather was perfect for a bike ride so we took a long one. We had not all been riding together in almost two years and I am not an experienced rider. So, in order to prevent my butt from getting sore, I have a big, soft seat on my bicycle. My mother, an avid cyclist, does not approve.
“You wouldn’t need that big tractor seat if you had padded shorts!” she always tells me.
“I’m thinking this whole idea of padded seats might catch on,” I quip. “Maybe we’ll start putting the padding right in the upholstery of couches so we don’t need to wear padded pants. Maybe if we put padding in our mattresses, we could stop wearing padded pajamas!”
My mother snorts. “You are being ridiculous.”
I am. My mother will never give up her skinny bicycle seat. She zoomed ahead while I followed, a little slower on my tractor seat, getting used to being on a bicycle again.
Last night I was awakened by a strange noise right outside our second-story bedroom window. “It sounds like a pigeon,” I thought. But there were no pigeons in the woods and, if there were, they would not be flying around in the middle of the night. I went back to sleep. Later, Peter was awakened by a loud “thump.” He thought a branch had landed on the roof. Then he went back to sleep. (I don’t recommend hiring either one of us as security guards.)
When we awoke, we discovered a large hawk lying dead on the sidewalk just a few feet from the front door. My parents’ cat, Katie, was mesmerized by the large dead bird lying just outside the glass front door. I know she fantasizes about killing birds, but the bird lying near the welcome mat exceeded her wildest ambitions.
Peter figured the “thump” he heard must have been when the hawk broke its neck. Why did it hit the roof? Was it chasing whatever was making the strange sounds I heard? I imitated the calls I heard for my father.
“Tree frogs,” my father said.
“Tree frogs outside my second-story window?” I asked.
“They climb the house,” he said.
We tried to imagine a hawk attempting to grab tree frogs off the side of the house and breaking its neck in the attempt. We agreed it sounded a little implausible.
If this were a mystery, some sharp-eyed sleuth would show up to explain things; before the end of the book, we’d learn what happened — what sort of “fowl play” had occurred to result in this tragic ending. But in real life, a lot of tragic things happen without warning or proper explanation.
“What are you going to do with him?” my mother asked my father. “Put him in the compost pile?”
That didn’t sound like a very dignified end to me.
“He’s too big,” my dad said. “I’ll bury him in the woods.”
So my dad disappeared into the woods with a shovel in one hand and a large bird in the other.
We’ll never know why that hawk hit the house at that velocity. And I thought of how the world is filled with these inexplicable occurrences. Things happen in the dark, things I will never fully understand.
But today the sun is shining again and I am going bike riding with my parents. My mother is racing ahead, while my dad and I follow, happy to all be riding together.
Till next time,
Carrie Carrie Classon’s memoir is called “Blue Yarn.” Learn more at CarrieClasson.com.