We ought to just call the vet and have me put down and out of misery, give me the long sleep goodnight — now that I don't have anything else to live for, it seems like the humane thing to do.
It's a tragic tale.
I was going along breathing in and out just fine and then my husband took a photograph of the bird that's been eluding our identification for almost 20 years. Now look at me. I'm directionless.
Afloat in a sea of life rendered moot (as in deprived of all practical significance) because the epic and legendary not-a-coocoo (as in, I don't know what that bird is, but we've definitely decided that it's not a coocoo) has been identified as a brown thrasher.
(And by the way, what kind of a lame-Jane boring name is that for a bird that has caught our imagination and spawned many a spousal argument for almost two decades. Brown thrasher indeed. It's not even brown — it's rust colored. Just so you know.)
I can hardly remember a time when my husband John and I weren't trying to identify this shy, rust-colored bird. We even argued about the bird's name and identification for a few months one summer until we realized we were talking about different birds seen at different times and different places. (No, we're not always masters of that key to marital bliss commonly known as communication.)
For years, all we knew about not-a-coocoo was that it was about robin-sized, with a long tail and bright rusty coloring. It didn't always nest in our area, plus we only saw it as it sprang out from hiding and flitted away into the brush.
You'd think that a bright rusty bird would be easy to spot from a distance to give us time to study it while it perched photogenically on a branch, but not so much. Some years I considered going full-birdwatcher, building a blind, wearing camouflage, buying a high-powered scope and sleeping in the wilds until I got a good look at one.
But such extremes seemed like too much work, so I settled for wishing I were like Snow White and could just sing the birdies from the trees. That was so much more practical, with a greater possibility for pure awesomeness.
Last year, the elusive not-a-coocoo surprised us by nesting somewhere near our house. Many times we'd step outside and be surprised by our rusty feathered friend skimming across the ground and over the bank to disappear into the brush and chokecherry trees.
We took lots of pictures of the ground, our fingers or feet, grass, sagebrush, posts, etc. — most of them blurry, all of them not-a-coocoo-less.
The only way in which our quest for bird identification was advanced was that we knew for sure that not-a-coocoo had a speckled, buff-colored breast. We were, thus, encouraged to narrow down the list of possible bird names to, well, one.
Maybe real birders would've been happy to agree that the bird was actually a brown thrasher. Maybe we were simply loathe to give up our quest. Maybe we're just ridiculous. But we refused to admit that not-a-coocoo had a real name and no real mystery at all.
Then a pair of them nested somewhere even closer to the house this year. We saw them in the yard, twice on the front steps, hanging out like they were there for a barbecue, waiting for us to serve beer and bean dip. They sang in our cottonwood tree, right by the bedroom window. They threw themselves at us like common sparrows.
And one day, they posed for the camera.
There it was for all the world to see, photographic evidence that not-a-coocoo should be called brown thrasher with its rust-colored body, speckled buff breast and, the last identifying clue, two delicate bars of white and brown across the wing.
Last night I pondered my new life, devoid of goals and the thrill of mystery, and decided that, since my vet won't put me out of my misery and Dr. Kevorkian is dead himself, I'd just have to come up with something else to live for.
It lacks the luster of not-a-coocoo hunting, but I'm thinking that I'd like to know what it's like to own a horse that is actually broke.
Maybe I'll end up missing the thrill of getting done with a ride and saying, "No one got injured, and I survived to tell the tale."
I'm hoping to find some satisfaction in more tame, less death-defying horseback riding. We'll see.
(It's all fun and games till a bird pokes your eye out at http://viewnorth40.wordpress.com.)