Whatever’ed gotten caught in the netting was large, not a small songbird or even a jay, she’d rescued plenty of smaller birds from the netting, one hand on their back, head between index and middle fingers, other hand unwinding or even cutting the netting from their legs or wings. It was a simple process, the hardest part being keeping her hands relaxed so as not to crush their little bones. She’d feel their hearts beating terrifyingly fast and always worried they’d have a heart attack before she was done. But they always flew away, not far, just far enough to sit and ensure they weren’t hurt, try to understand what exactly had happened, reaffirm for themselves that the giantess no longer had them in her clutches.
This was no small bird. Whatever this was would require two hands just to hold, and it was up a bit higher than she was used to, roughly shoulder height, she figured. Perhaps this would be the first creature she didn’t find in time. It wasn’t moving. The lack of movement was more intimidating than the creatures size.
She’d seen something in the netting from the kitchen window, seen that it wasn’t moving. Immediately dropped the glass she’d been rinsing, and rushed out of the house throwing on shoes and grabbing her gardening gloves trying desperately not to trip or lose momentum. She stubbed her toe shoving it inside her shoe, nearly twisted her ankle taking the corner around the garage, rushing to the netting, slowing only as she realized the creature was a hawk.
A beautiful hawk, with a wicked sharp beak, and large talons. How was she going to hold this bird and get it out of the netting. If the bird was already dead there was nothing for it, if still alive she would need to be very smart about this rescue. She stopped to think. Burlap. Burlap would be best. She could put the burlap over the hawks back and head. In the dark of the cloth the bird would be unlikely to try and take her fingers off. Burlap was something she didn’t have.
The hawk moved, not much, she could tell it felt the netting getting worse with movement rather than better. Smart bird. Think. Think, think, think, think, think. A feed sack would be too noisy and would surely cause the hawk to struggle, a blanket would reek of human and would probably cause the hawk to freak out as well, it’s not like she had a lot of options. She finally settled on a horse blanket. Horse smell would be unlikely to cause as much stress as human, and it would be suitably thick that if she wasn’t able to secure the hawk it at least wouldn’t be able to remove her fingers while she fumbled.
Rushing to the barn, grabbing the blanket off the wooden horse, rushing back to the netting. She slowed several steps away. The bird was definitely up at her shoulders, this would make it more difficult as it’s defenses would be right in her face, although luckily she was facing it’s back. How far can hawks turn their heads, she wondered. She decided there was nothing for it but to tell the smart hawk what she was going to do and hope he understood.
“I’m going to help you,” she nearly whispered, “please be calm. Please trust me.”
The bird remained motionless and she took it as a sign that she was welcome to get to work. Lifting the blanket up she began to narrate her actions, if knowing what was happening helped people at the doctor and dentist feel better perhaps it would help the bird.
“I’m going to put a blanket around you from behind back here and up over your head so I can see how to help,” and she did.
The bird still didn’t move. She realized she’d been holding her breath since “help” escaped her lips. She couldn’t feel the hawks heartbeat through the blanket. Perhaps it wasn’t alive after all. With the head and wings under cover she looked at the legs. Not too much thicker than her chickens, and there was the netting, all looped around both legs. The hawk was very much alive, as it was holding itself up at the elbows. The longer she held it, the more it relaxed back against her. She wouldn’t be able to untangle it like this. She needed a free hand.
As if the hawk had read her mind it completely relaxed it’s body, including it’s talons. That’s when she saw the netting was weak, it had been ripped, torn perhaps by this very hawk. There was very little netting left holding the hawk in place and captive. If she could tug the bird a bit the netting would rip the rest of the way and she’d be able to lower the bird down and maybe have a moment or two to get the straggly bits off before the hawk took off or took off her finger.
“I’m going to pull on you a bit, please trust me, I won’t hurt you,” and she began to gently lower the hawk down towards her chest, tugging the netting still wrapped around it’s legs.
Once the hawk was at her chest it was much easier to see what she needed to do, although not any easier to do it. She still only had two hands and they were both around the hawks back keeping it’s wings down. If this was one of her chickens she’d simply slide the bird over and down to her hip on one side, switching her hand over from its wing to its lower chest. She didn’t dare try that with this bird, it left her fingers much too vulnerable. What else could she do. She took a deep breath, realizing the bird would feel her chest rise, and fall as she let the breath out. The hawk didn’t move.
Checking that the blanket was still in place over the hawks head she said, “I’m going to hold your legs with my hand. Please trust me. I won’t hurt you.”
Keeping the bird firmly against her chest with her left hand, she slowly moved her right hand towards the hawks chest and then pressed gently to keep the hawk firmly against her. She then moved her left hand slowly down towards the hawks legs. Rather than grabbing both, which had been her original plan, she simply began to unwind the netting. This was working quite well and even though she was excited, she remained wary, this was still a wild animal and likely to decide it had had enough at any minute. She worked quickly but calmly and with steady movements.
She soon had the hawks left leg free and the hawk moved. She became stalk still although her already racing heart began to beat faster. The hawk was simply retracting its leg, pulling it in closer to its chest, it stretched the talons, too, merely checking for injury it seemed.
When the hawk stopped moving again she said, “We’re almost done now. I’m going to free the other leg.”
And with her left hand she let go of the bit of netting she’d removed from the left leg and took hold of the netting still surrounding the right leg. It was even easier to remove the netting from the right and soon she was left holding a hawk. A perfectly healthy hawk. How was she going to let it go without hurting it or herself.
The blanket was still covering it’s head and back, “I’m going to put both hands on your wings again, then walk a bit so you’re away from this netting,” she said, “then I’ll set you down and remove the blanket. Please trust me. I won’t hurt you.”
She returned her left hand to where the hawks left wing would be and slid her right hand back to the same wing space on the right. She walked as smoothly as she could while also moving somewhat quickly, taking the hawk to an open bit of land and sky. She very slowly lowered the hawk to the ground and just as she grabbed the blanket and stepped back, the bird leaped up into the air and took wing.
A gasp escaped her lips before she could stop it, it was truly breathtaking. She watched as the hawk flew up and up and then circled above a bit before flying west. She’d been holding her breath again, or rather, she’d been holding an exhale and gasped for air. She simultaneously wanted to fall on the ground in a heap staring at the sky and run and jump and laugh. Adrenaline was coursing through her veins and for an instant she almost thought she could fly after the bird she was so high.
Instead she returned the blanket to the barn, walked up to the shop for a ladder and some clippers, and began dismantling the netting.
~~~That’s one hour~~~