This past weekend, my castmate and I trekked out to the World Center for Birds of Prey, established 35 years ago to rescue the endangered Peregrine Falcon in North America. After very successfully re-populating even some urban settings with this kickass raptor, they've expanded to shelter all sorts of magnificent birds, some for breeding conservation programs, but most because they're somehow injured or can no longer be (re-) introduced to their native habitats, which may or may not exist anymore.

There was an Aplomado Falcon, and a Eurasian Eagle-Owl (I want to be an Eagle-Owl!!), and a stately California Condor with wings that could shade half my family. There was a Bateleur Eagle from Africa, with a bright red mask and a piercing squawk that somehow managed to say, "What the fuck?" and "Hey, how you doin'?" both at once. But really, really loudly. Thanks to the really engaging, foul-mouthed grandmother conducting the tours, I now can't look at so much as a pigeon without imagining a Peregrine Falcon diving out of the sun at 242 mph, making straight for this flying little mid-day snack, knocking it out with its knobby talons and grabbing it mid-air, "to take it home for the missus and the kids."

* * * * * * *

The pace of this tour has settled into a relentless gear, the kind that does the high-pitched rattle on the freeway all the time. My poor castmate has just gotten floored by bronchitis, and feeling the descent of this show's energy, even in spite of my best efforts, is painfully expensive to sustain. You can only punch up the energy so far, you can dig down only so much; beyond which there's this wall you hit and then you can see the kids fidgeting in the shadows, you can hear their restive sighs, the older ones start giggling and you realize your puppet's feet are facing the wall while his eyes are looking at you, and your hood is up or your glove is caught on something or the tripod just tipped over in the middle of the show. (Most of these things haven't happened to me onstage... yet.) And then you realize something of what Clinton must have felt as he stepped out of office and sat down to watch the Middle East collapse like a domino stack of folding chairs.

Right now I write from Boise's airport, a plastic little middle-American affair, soft tones of grey in the air-conditioned chill. We cancelled today's shows to let the antibiotics take a whack at things. I'd planned on spending the weekend back in PDX, anyway, and today ended up being a much-needed breathing space.

My flight's overcrowded and, predictably, delayed. My hands are sore from my puppets. I need new boots. Military jets roar past from the Mountain Home AFB, not far from here. I watch the sun go down as the luggage conveyors rumble past, and the ground crew with their light-up wands flag away the massive, lumbering planes. Babies are crying, blond children stare at me, the air turns chill in the sudden evening. I'm going home.

Angels and ministers of grace defend us,



Sally said...

You're in that spot of the tour when your second wind hasn't yet kicked in. It will. And you'll fall into a rhythm, and it'll feel like you could go on forever.

It'll get better, I promise.

Johnny said...

Just visited your blog, It is interesting to read. If you need some free cell phone tips, please click here .

JJ-Wan Kenobi said...

Let go and trust The Force, Paul.

Remember, that shimmering blue spectral figure in the wings off stage left is me in Jedi Spirit form giving you the thumbs up.

sirbarrett said...

I hope someone nice is defending us anyway. Perhaps if you ever become an eagle, you could look out for us? You're always on the move! It makes things colourful. I like a bird that swears. He sounds lovely. Funny puppet bloopers.

The Blah Brain said...

Hey, nice blog you've got here. :)

Hoodia said...

Help me Dude, I think I'm lost..... I was searching for Elvis and somehow ended up in your blog, but you know I'm sure I saw him in a car lot yesterday, which is really strange because the last time I saw him was in the supermarket. No honest really, he was right there in front of me, next to the steaks singing "Love me Tender". He said to me (his lip was only slightly curled) "Boy, you need to get yourself a San Diego cosmetic surgery doctor ,to fit into those blue suede shoes of yours. But Elvis said in the Ghetto nobody can afford a San Diego plastic surgery doctor. Dude I'm All Shook Up said Elvis. I think I'll have me another cheeseburger. Then I'm gonna go round and see Michael Jackson and we're gonna watch a waaaay cool make-over show featuring some Tijuana dentists on the TV in the back of my Hummer. And then he just walked out of the supermarket singing. . . "You give me love and consolation,
You give me strength to carry on " Strange day or what? :-)

paulmonster said...

Hoodia, buddy, that was perhaps the most entertaining piece of spam I've ever read.