Bordering on complete sanity:

The bird machine

By Sandy Compton
Reader Staff

Has it been hot or is it just me? OK. Damnably hot. Not hellishly hot, yet, but still.

A friend pointed out yesterday that if global warming isn’t real, a great majority of the world’s scientists are idiots. Love that kind of perverse logic. Sort of. Even if it does scare the hell out me. Not run-and-hide scared, but where-are-we-going-with-all-this scared. If I extrapolate out far enough on that curve, we’re all going to die.

Oh, yeah. That’s right. We’re all going to die anyway. That and birth, by whatever means, are the two universally held life experiences of all living things. On this planet, anyway. And global warming probably won’t kill all living things, but it might kill all the mammals. Of which we are a part. A very vulnerable part. Don’t believe me? What will you do when your well runs dry?

If you don’t want to think about such important matters today, you may want to skip over to someone else.

Once upon a time in a dream, I watched a covey of grouse feeding in a fringe of trees at the edge of one of my grandpa’s fields. A huge black bird resembling an oversized raven, came out of the sky and took the hindmost grouse. Again and again, it swooped in, grabbed a grouse and consumed it. But it didn’t really eat it. It just chewed it up.

The predator bird revealed itself as not flesh-and-blood, but, rather, a machine with black metal feathers sporting large triangular teeth, like those of a shark. As each succeeding grouse was taken, the others moved off far enough that they couldn’t hear the bones of their brethren crunching.

On the other side of the thin strip of forest where the grouse were, the land drops into the Blue Creek canyon. In the dream, an eagle came up out of Blue Creek, soaring into the sky on a thermal. It dove on the black bird-machine, raking it with its talons, to no obvious effect, but the bird-machine rose to the attack, and an air battle ensued.

The bird-machine was bigger and faster, but the eagle was more maneuverable, able to pull tight turns and fly in spirals, while the black bird could only make big loops or long arcs. The eagle never retook the offensive, it just stayed out of harm’s way.

In the end, the bird-machine faltered and fell in a straight dive to the ground, where it crashed into a crumpled metal mess. I intuited that it had run out of fuel. The eagle flew on. The grouse kept feeding. The dream ended.

The bird-machine could be our crazy, greed-riddled, image-driven, non-stop, as-long-as-I-get-mine-everything-is-fine culture. It’s chewing up folks and spitting them out.

The grouse could be us. You and me and the guy down the street. We just want to get by and eat our fill. We can’t be bothered with the plight of the last guy or gal or kid in line. Until we are the last one in line, of course. Then, OMG!

So, who’s the eagle?

That could be us, too, if we so choose. Willing to take up the cause of others, able to resist our crazy culture and wise and agile enough to stay out of its way.

Probably, all of us are a combination of the three. If you drive a car or use electricity, you’re arguably part of the machine. And, unless you’re Jesus or Mother Theresa, you likely suffer bouts of complacency regarding the plight of the neighbors.

But once in a while, we might all be eagles.

Sandy Compton’s new book, “The Scenic Route: Life on the Road Between Hope and Paradise,” is available at Vanderford’s in Sandpoint, or online at

While we have you ...

... if you appreciate that access to the news, opinion, humor, entertainment and cultural reporting in the Sandpoint Reader is freely available in our print newspaper as well as here on our website, we have a favor to ask. The Reader is locally owned and free of the large corporate, big-money influence that affects so much of the media today. We're supported entirely by our valued advertisers and readers. We're committed to continued free access to our paper and our website here with NO PAYWALL - period. But of course, it does cost money to produce the Reader. If you're a reader who appreciates the value of an independent, local news source, we hope you'll consider a voluntary contribution. You can help support the Reader for as little as $1.

You can contribute at either Paypal or Patreon.

Contribute at Patreon Contribute at Paypal

You may also like...

Close [x]

Want to support independent local journalism?

The Sandpoint Reader is our town's local, independent weekly newspaper. "Independent" means that the Reader is locally owned, in a partnership between Publisher Ben Olson and Keokee Co. Publishing, the media company owned by Chris Bessler that also publishes Sandpoint Magazine and Sandpoint Online. Sandpoint Reader LLC is a completely independent business unit; no big newspaper group or corporate conglomerate or billionaire owner dictates our editorial policy. And we want the news, opinion and lifestyle stories we report to be freely available to all interested readers - so unlike many other newspapers and media websites, we have NO PAYWALL on our website. The Reader relies wholly on the support of our valued advertisers, as well as readers who voluntarily contribute. Want to ensure that local, independent journalism survives in our town? You can help support the Reader for as little as $1.