Don Wheeler and Linus.

Linus and Don Wheeler


I would like to claim that the eight-hour drive addled my brain, but I won't.  I was just stupid because I allowed Linus to remain on my shoulder while I went to the room.  To my great distress, the woman helping with the registration decided to be nice and save me the trip to her office by bringing out the remaining paperwork to me.  As she came out of the door, she startled Linus, who promptly took off like a little cruise missile.  All I saw was a gray circle with little red flames in the center, as Linus flew off flicking individual tail feathers to control his direction. Based upon his performance at home, I expected that he would travel no more than a hundred feet or so.  The lawn was large, the wind was dead calm and for the most part, trees surrounded the property.  You can imagine my astonishment as Linus not only failed to lose altitude, but aimed perfectly between two conjoined palm trees, crossed above the six foot fence and proceeded to crest the roofline of the adjacent condo.  All of this happened with the light visibly fading second by second.  Thus began one of the longest nights of my life. 

The area here is filled with large trees such as eucalyptus, redwood and oak.  Additional obstacles include block fences and a very busy four-lane road, on the edge of the property of the bed and breakfast.  Across the street, but in the opposite direction from that which Linus flew, is a creek with many feral cats as well as owls, sparrow hawks, and red-tailed hawks (well, maybe they would view Linus as a cousin).  It took a couple of minutes just to jump a fence or two, to get to the general area where I estimated Linus to be.  The first thing I did was to quickly check the roadway for a gray and red smudge.  Not seeing one in the near dark, I climbed yet another fence into a gated condo complex to look for him.  There was no sign of him but one of the condos has an older couple that used to own a grey parrot.  They helped by searching the trees with a flashlight, and they were kind enough to give me a key to the gate so that I didn't have to keep climbing it.  By now it was so dark that it was pointless to try and visually spot Linus (assuming he was even in the area).  I did wander about for a couple of hours whistling his contact call.  A couple of times, I thought I might have heard him but between the traffic, walls and buildings, it was really difficult to tell.  At least I hoped he could hear me and know that he wasn’t totally alone.


Copyright © 2011, Susie Christian