“Did you check the shed?”, Spiro asked. “Ah, no. Hold up. Yes, they’re here, wrapped in this old sheet.”
I tried to unwrap the sheet but it clung onto the bundle of metre-long sticks. “We might have a problem”, I said. “No, it just means that the birdlime works. It’ll ruin the sheet when we finally remove it but that’s fine.” My cousin looked pleased at how sticky the sticks were.
I was still unsure what they used to make them so adhesive. “Why did you use again? Looks like snot.” “It’s mistletoe. Spent all last Saturday boiling it. Added some oil too. Works a charm.”
I offered to carry the sheet. It was heavier than I would have liked but being in charge of transporting it made me feel valuable. As if it was the last remaining M16 in working condition amongst a group of soldiers. I had never caught a bird before but tried to act as unphased by the possibility as possible.
We set the sticks in strategic locations: by the stream, in low tree branches, poking out of hedges. All we had to do was wait for a bird to sit on one of them and that would be it. Caught alive and ready to be sold off as a pet. We were hoping for a goldfinch, they use to frequent the area, but could do with a robin as well, although it would fetch a lower price.
It took about two hours before a bird came even remotely close. A beautiful goldfinch no less. It began descending by a narrow, lazily-flowing stream that went dry during the summer months. The goldfinch sharply moved left and right in the air before finally resting on one of the sticks we’d placed there. It tried to fly away and though the mistletoe lime stretched a little creating an almost diaphanous collection of gel-like strings, it eventually brought the bird back down. Its own weight made it tilt to the side slightly.
We used a pair of old rusty scissors to separate the bird from the stick. Snipped at the now somewhat stretched substance. It fought and buzzed with inadequate vigour in my cousin's palm for a few seconds but settled down after surrendering to his grip. Our dilapidated cage would have to do for now. Whoever bought the bird could put it into whatever cage they saw fit. Always wondered how mature that bird was. Still undecided if I'd hoped it was young enough to have lived long after we’d sold it or old enough to have died soon after it was denied the limitless playground of the open sky.