Sunday, June 16, 2024


On the patio watering flowers, I saw a bird, and we both stopped and looked at each other. The bird was bright yellow, and it was funny how he cocked his head and stared at me. I don't know how else to explain it except to say that it felt like he wanted to tell me something. He didn't. Instead, I took his picture, and he flew up into a tree. 

But the whole thing was unsettling. How bright yellow the bird was and the cartoon-like expression on his face. I sent the picture to my friend Natalie, who is an avid bird watcher, and said, What is this? 

She wrote right back: It's a canary. Probably someone's pet who escaped. It might need help. 

Oh my God, I said. Because it all made sense then. Poor bird. He WAS trying to tell me something. Also, I felt like a ding dong. I know what canaries look like! I just never expected to see one hopping around outside on my patio. Anyway, it was too late. The bird had flown off, hopefully, to find help from someone else. 

Stop beating yourself up about it, Natalie told me. It was a few days later, and we were having brunch, and I was still ruminating over the bird. And then I was ruminating over some news I'd read about how there's a bill going through the Ohio Statehouse that would force public libraries to keep objectionable books away from patrons under the age of 18. It's not clear exactly what "objectionable" is, but anyone can file a complaint about any book. 

If they did, you'd have to keep those books hidden behind a desk or wrapped up in paper, and parents would have to give permission for their kid to check a book out. Oh, and if a library worker broke that rule, the state could charge them with a crime and defund the library system. 

What is this? I said to Natalie, because in addition to being an avid bird watcher, she works in government, and therefore, she is my go-to person for what's happening politically in the area. 

Don't worry about it, she said.  

But I was still worried about it. I was thinking about the book I read recently about the collapse of society and how one of the characters said to another one of the characters: "History is a silent record of people who did not know when to leave." 

While I was thinking about this, I was eating French toast with whipped cream and syrup. I rarely eat this kind of food anymore, and my head felt like it was detaching from my neck and floating away. It didn't help that I'd drunk multiple cups of coffee. Every time the waitress came by our table, she'd top off my cup. 

Natalie explained how the legislative process works in Ohio, and I ate two sausages to balance out the sugar rush, and then I drank a glass of water to dilute the caffeine. It's slow! she said. This particular anti-library bill is only sponsored by one guy and no one else has even signed off on it! 

Yet, I said. But I had to admit I felt a million times better. 

We quit discussing the yellow bird and crazy potential laws in the state of Ohio, and talked about our latest writing projects. Did I mention that Natalie is a New York Times Best Selling author? Anyway, she is. And as you can imagine, she was helpful on this subject too. 

After brunch, I checked my neighborhood's social media page where I’d posted about the yellow bird. I was hoping that whoever had lost the bird would chime in. Instead, there were comments about various sightings. People who had seen him in their feeders and playing in their bird baths. It wasn’t the news I was hoping for. 

I am not a person who is good with uncertainty. Will the yellow bird find his way home? Will the crazy book banning bill become a law? Who knows. If I ever run into the bird again, maybe I will ask him. 

Yellow Bird

French Toast 

Natalie's new book. Potentially banned? 


  1. What a useful friend to have! A great writer (because I've read some of her books:), and I'm sure a lovely person, to boot.