The Other I

December 21, 2010

Is it a bird, is it a plane, is it…?

Filed under: Just Stuff — theotheri @ 5:19 pm

We woke up this morning to intermittent sounds of distress emanating from somewhere in the upper levels of our house.

We are in the midst of an unrelenting and uncharacteristic deep freeze, and our first thought was that one of the many wood pigeons who share our neighbourhood had got itself caught in one of our two chimneys.  Liberating trapped pigeons is not a skill either my husband or I have developed to a high degree, though we did help once free a bird caught in an elevator shaft.

Fortunately, there were no birds in either chimney.  But the sounds of distress continued.  We climbed into the loft.  It shouldn’t be open to the outside permitting a bird to get in, but a squirrel or some other rodent might have managed somehow.  But they didn’t.

The cries continued sporadically but they were not coming from the loft.  Nor were there any visible animals trapped in the snow and ice on the roof.

I began to suspect that, although they were sporadic, the sounds had a vaguely mechanical sound.

We unplugged our door bell chimes.  That didn’t work.

We checked our cell phones to see if the batteries were running down.  Nothing.

We turned our two computers off.  They weren’t the problem.

Then I spied the smoke alarms in the ceiling.  We don’t pay much attention to the smoke alarms because they are charged from the main electricity supply and so don’t ever need the batteries to be checked.

Sure enough, the beeping was coming from the smoke alarm.

Small panic:  was there smoke somewhere in the loft?  in the chimney?  No.

I got a ladder and a screw driver and pried the noise-maker open.  Inside was a notice directing people like me who don’t know what we are doing to see the owner’s manual but that in any case, there was nothing inside the alarm that should be meddled with.

The owner’s manual disappeared many years ago presumably with the alarm’s original owner so I pried off the inner casing where the electrical wires were attached to the unit.  Ah ha!

It wasn’t a bird.  It wasn’t a plane.  It wasn’t even smoke.

It was a small piece of leaf about a quarter of an inch wide flapping inside the alarm casing.  An ingenious spider probably dragged it in there and then decided not to stay.

Tomorrow I’m returning to the peace and quiet of serious life.  Rescuing distressed leaves doesn’t make me feel important enough.

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