Freshly outfitted I took The Phoenix out for its first ride tonight. Met Manny at Berkeley and Silver Lake Boulevard and we did what’s becoming our regular out-and-back up the river to Griffith Park. Exiting the L.A. River Bikeway at Victory we turned left and crossed the 134 Freeway to Zoo Drive, where we made another left. Not more than a few pedal strokes down the road Manny rolls over something that flips up and catches the sun in that way that credit cards can and I call to him to hold up but he doesn’t here me. Thinking it might be his I stop, bend down and pick it up, but it’s not. It’s the platinum debit card of a lady named Candice and I tuck it into my pocket to report it lost later and get rolling again, hoping Manny might have taken a look behind him sooner rather than later. He hadn’t and was long gone around the bend.

Not much more than another quarter mile down Zoo Drive I hit a slight downhill and start chugging to catch up and just as I round the bend in the road wrapping around the zoo’s parking lot smack dab in the middle of the bike lane is a little sparrow just hunkered down there on the asphalt as if it isn’t sure if it wants to lay an egg or get run over.

Of course I brake hard to a stop and drop The Phoenix’s kickstand and trot back to the little tyke and it makes no attempt to flee me when I pick it up off the street. Thinking it might be a fledgling that hasn’t quite found its wings I start looking for a branch to place it on, but the boughs of the nearest arbors are too high for me to reach. Spying some with lower limbs across the street I move over there and after snapping the pictures below am in the process of attempting to transfer it when Manny comes into view having doubled back after discovering I was not behind him.

I tell him about the bank card and how he didn’t hear me yelling after him and then there was this bird who’s totally unstressed hanging out in my bike gloved hand. Though it looks perfectly healthy it’s showing no signs or willingness to leave.

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I give half-hearted consideration to putting it in my backpack and bringing it home, but Manny’s voice of reason rings out and true with: “That’s not going to work!” So I cross the street back to my bike, then traverse the dry drainage ditch between the road and the parking lot and carefully deposit the little bird on a branch inside a bushy waist-high shrub, wishing it well as I retreated to my bike to continue the ride.