Kindred spirits

One day as I was cycling over the four-lane highway to the school where I teach Romantic poetry, I saw in the road ahead a small lump -- which two seconds later turned out to be a bird. I whizzed past in my usual civilized hurry, but before I had gone another 25 yards, something made me stop. I pulled over, laid my bike down, and, dodging cars and motorcycles, walked back to the bird.

It was simply sitting there in the middle of the highway, a lovely meadowlark , a young bird, out of nest, but not quite of survival age.

As I stood there, a delivery truck came over the rise, but when I waved the truck around, the driver pulled over and got out.By that time I had picked up the meadowlark, pleased that it was not injured. It trembled in my hand, but did not otherwise move or seek to escape. Perhaps it knew instinctively that it was not really caught. At any rate, I decided to walk over to the edge of the woods and set the bird free by placing it on the ground in a thicket.

Just as I was settling the bird, the truck driver who had stopped came over to see what was up.

"Yeah," he said, after i told him what had happened, "I saw a turtle back a ways."

"Did you run over it?" I asked.

"Naw."

And he returned to his truck, opened the cab door, and reappeared to my astonishment with a turtle. He placed it in the woods with my meadowlark.

"Goodbye," I said, deeply touched by this chance encounter.

"S'long, mister," he replied.

I have the feeling we were both speechless at that point, for we went our separate ways without another word.

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