When I was a kid, I used to think Autobahn and Audubon were the same word, but I couldn’t figure out how those things could be linked!
After all, the Autobahn is the federal highway of Germany while John Audubon was the American ornithologist, naturalist, and painter who inspires generations of bird lovers to raise their binoculars. Perhaps if people used the proper name of the motorway, the Bundesautobahn, and if followers of Mr. Audubon were simply called bird lovers, then my processing of the two would have been Gestalt. Only after living in Luxembourg have I actually seen a link between the speedy highway and the life of birds…
I love our terrace. The view is beautiful from our penthouse apartment, and my husband and I enjoy relaxing there–with coffee in the morning, dinner and wine in the evening. One night, we had an uninvited guest–a largish white bird had taken up residence in a corner of the balcony. I gave a half-hearted “shoo,” and heard not a peep from the critter as he refused to abandon his perch. Yet, the next morning, as our feathered friend was strutting the terrace runway, I was surprised to see the accessories he was sporting: little bracelets with barcodes around his slim ankles. He was a racing pigeon! Speed meets bird, Autobahn meets Audubon!
Ah, beautiful summer…sunshine beating down as I watched the birds circling, swooping and playing as they soar through the sky. The birds seemed to keep getting closer with each round of flight. It appeared they’d fly right through our open door, then they changed course upward–and settled for a quick minute on the roof. I’d become a bit accustomed to the rhythm of the aeronautics and focused my attention elsewhere, until, in my peripheral vision I was alerted to quick, close motion.
A hawk was flying with some cargo–in his mouth he was holding something with a long tail–it seemed the flashing on the terrace has become the apron of his racetrack–as his feet are stretched out before him and he banked to the inside edge. It was all very mesmerizing, a graceful bird ballet…BUT THEN the driver misjudged! He landed on the flashing with prey in his mouth, feet forward in a cartoonish attempt to stop.
He continued to slip and slide along at quick speed until his face slammed right into the glass safety (for whom?) panels on the terrace! He shook his head as if in slow motion, heard my scream, dropped the mouse, and skedaddled away! He left behind the carcass of a mouse, a bloody imprint of the body on the glass pane, and the evidence that yes, indeed, the speed of the Autobahn and the species of Mr. Audubon are linked!
I quickly exited the terrace in disgust, closed the doors and blinds, left the evidence for my husband (cleaner extraordinaire of all things disgusting) who will never believe my account of the highway and the hawk, the right of way and the raptor, the inertia and the imprint.