Friday, February 08, 2008

FLIGHT OF THE SNOWBIRD

By Hildegard McEwan

Autumn had arrived. The leaves on the trees were turning crimson and gold, and the skies had begun to fill with long, slender chevrons of Canada geese, honking and flapping their way south for the winter. It was also the time of year when the Engelbergers headed for warmer climes, bypassing the frigid Midwest winter in favor of Floridian sunshine and orange trees and reasonably priced seafood buffets.

Stanley was readying the Winnebago for the big trip when he saw his Gertrude promenading across the lawn, suitcase in hand. Oddly enough, she was wearing a leather helmet and aviator goggles, and Stanley was equally surprised to see a pair of enormous white wings affixed to her back. It was then he began to wonder if their travel plans might unfold differently this year.

Gertrude confirmed his suspicions, announcing that she would be wintering in Arizona with Albert Fleishman, the handsome widower podiatrist with whom she had apparently developed a deep and meaningful relationship following bunion surgery last spring. And they would be flying, she told Stanley, staring with no small amount of disdain at the gently rusting Engelberger motor home. The feathers of Gertrude's new appendages ruffled in the breeze as she scanned the skies for her paramour, and Stanley caught a minty whiff he recognized as his denture adhesive, which seemed to be what was holding the wings together.

"You're going to fly to Arizona with those flimsy things?" Stanley chuckled. "Good luck, Earhart!"

But no sooner had the words left his mouth when Fleishman swooped down, his own feathery wings flapping magnificently as he slowed to a hover above the Engelbergers. Gertrude offered him her hand, and the two laughing septuagenarians rose high into the air, pirouetting around each other with a grace that belied their years. Higher and higher they flew into the brilliant morning sky, riding the updrafts like a pair of mighty eagles, soaring above flocks of migrating birds and through contrails of passing airplanes until, finally, they were no more than two specks silhouetted against the sun.

Stanley lit a cigarette and watched them go, and then he shuffled back inside the Winnebago to finish polishing the dashboard. Soon he noticed droplets of melted denture adhesive pitter-pattering on the windshield, and a dull sadness filled the old man's heart. That is, until he turned on his windshield wipers and watched with growing satisfaction as the new triple-strength polymer blades swept the glass sparkly clean.

(Authoress Hildegard McEwan does not remember writing this story.)

4 comments:

Hugh Jorgan said...

Speaking of Canada geese, here's a fun fact:

You know how the geese fly in a V-shape? The geese switch out the lead position at the point of the V, the leader falling back to the end of a leg of the V, and another goose taking the lead position. But there is almost always one leg of the V that is longer than the other side. Do you know why this is?

It's because there are more geese on the longer side!

Haw-haw-haw-haw...!

ted tippler said...

Happy 100th

Hildegard McEwan (authoress) said...

I would joke 'bout Canada Geese,

But then the pecking would never cease.

Anonymous said...

This story warms my heart each time I read it.