Sammy was worried. Actually, he was scared. Worried and scared. It wasn’t hard job his mom had sent him to do. But he was frozen. He couldn’t go into the shed. It wasn’t because of the dark. The day was sunny, starting to get hot. The big garage door was wide open. There were skylights in the roof. So it wasn’t the dark.
It was the noise. A kind of rustly thumping from inside the big shed. Inside the shed where the life-jackets were. The life jackets he was supposed to get and come right back. But no fishing trip in the world was going to make him go into that shed. Nope, no way.
The noise came from up high. Almost from the roof of the shed. From the part he couldn’t see. It sounded like this, “skittcher-skittcher, scuff-scuff, tump” and then “skrittcher-skrittcher-scraff”. Then nothing.
Sammy breathed. “Well…” he said to himself. “Well, it could be one of the pine-tree branches skrittchering on the metal roof of the shed. And maybe a pine cone dropped and made that tump noise.” The wind was quiet. The noise was quiet. This was good. He took a step towards the shed. No wind, no noise. He took another step. No wind,
“Skrittcher-skrittch, tump”. Uh Oh.
There were a lot of things Sammy wasn’t afraid of. He wasn’t afraid of the dark, too much. Wasn’t afraid of dogs, really. Didn’t get scared of the crazy neighbor lady who always wanted to hug him, usually. Bats scared his mom, but not him. Snakes? No problem.
But there were two things that made Sammy feel scared. First, bugs. He didn’t like bugs. Even though they were little, even though the usually ran away from him. He was afraid of bugs. And secondly, he was afraid of whatever it was that was making that noise. “Skrittcher-flappish”. There was only one thing to do. Sammy turned around and ran.
He ran back to his mom and dad.
“Sammy, where are the life-jackets? Where have you been?” His mom and dad seemed a little mad. They wanted to be able to go fishing before the day got too hot. How to explain about why he couldn’t get the life-jackets? “I-I-…There was a…In the garage…the shed. A noise. I can’t.” He shook his head. It was getting hot already.
“Come on, Sammikin. I’ll come with you.” His dad was a little afraid of bugs, too. But he was big, and he always made Sammy feel safe. So they went back. His mom and little brother sat on the dock, cooling their feet in the lake and trying to catch minnows.
There was almost no wind, and Sammy and his dad could hear the noise coming from the shed. “Skrittcher-pthump-flatter” Whatever it was, it was big. Well, not big for a bear, or a wolf, but for a bug? It was huge.
Sammy’s dad grabbed his hand and they inched closer to the shed, and to the noise. The thing. They got close enough to look in the big garage door, and the shadow that skrittchered across the lifejackets was a big as Sammy’s dad’s hand. “Omigoodness!” Sammy covered his eyes with his hand and turned around.
His dad leaned in and looked up into the rafters, his face was very serious, and he was holding Sammy’s hand tighter than before. Then he stopped short, “Sammy, We need a ladder. Go back and ask mom to bring the stepladder. Hurry.” But Sammy was rooted to the ground like a tree. A really scared tree.
“Sammy, it’s a bird. He’s in trouble. It’s a humming bird. Go get the ladder, Sammikin. He needs our help.”
Sammy opened his fingers and leaned in. He saw the tiny bird flittering up into the skylight in the roof of the shed. It was banging into the window, trying to get out. But it was hot up in the roof, and the bird was tired. It slid down along a rafter to a cross-beam and lay there, with his beak open, just a little.
Sam was scared, really scared. But in a different way from before. He was scared for the hummingbird, not of it. He turned around for the second time, and ran back to the cabin where his mom and brother were cooling their feet.
“Mom, it’s a- there’s a- it’s a hummingbird, he needs our help! Mom, I think it might die. Dad needs a ladder, right now!” She grabbed Sammy’s little brother and headed behind the cabin. His mom was strong, but she wouldn’t be able to carry the ladder and his little brother. Sammy followed her, “Mom I’ll take Henry on my back, so you can go fast with the ladder, Hurry, please!”
Sammy’s dad was standing inside the shed when they got back with the ladder. They set it up to one side of the shed, and his dad climbed up while his mom held the bottom of the ladder steady. “Honey, I don’t know how you’re…” His dad climbed up and sat on a rafter. But the bird was in the middle of the shed, not by the edge, and the little hummingbird hadn’t moved since they got back.
Sammy was worried, he was scared. But not of the bird, not of bugs or bears. He was scared for his dad, up in the rafters and for the bird, so hot and tired.
“Jeeze, it’s so hot up here. The heat is trapped up here, like that bird. Warm air rises, Sammy, did you know that?” He did know, because the top bunk of his bed was always warmer than the bottom bunk.
His dad’s face was shiny and his cheeks were red. He started to crawl across the rafter to the middle of the shed. Now, everyone was scared. “Mom, why doesn’t he just fly out the door?” Sam’s mom was looking up, Henry was looking up, Sam was looking up. “Birds don’t really understand glass, he thinks he can get out through that skylight. It looks like the way out to him.”
Now his dad was sitting on the rafter, inching closer to the bird. He reached towards it. “Skrittcher, flap! The birdie jerked awake and tried to fly out the skylight again. “Tummp” he hit the window.
But he was tired, and when he started to fall, Sam’s dad put his hand out and caught the little hummingbird. He inched back over, with only one hand this time. When he climbed back down the ladder and showed the little bird, his face looked worried. “I think he’s too hot. We need to get him to drink some water, and cool down.”
The whole family went back to the cabin to try to feed the little bird some water. He wasn’t even trying to fly away. The bird was in trouble. They tried an eyedropper to put water into his mouth, they tried dipping his beak into a bottle cap, they put two drops right on his head, even. But the bird was still slow and tired-looking. If he stayed slow, he’d never get the chance to cool down, there were plenty of animals who would snatch him up before long.
Sammy was getting hot himself. He thought about all the running he did back and forth. He thought about his family, and how hard they worked to get that bird to a safe place. He remembered his mom and Henry on the dock, cooling their feet. That sounded like a good idea. Cool off his feet and try to think of a way to help the hummingbird. He took off his shoes and socks. As soon as he did, he started to feel better. HEY!
Sammy had a really good idea. “Dad, pour the water over his feet. Everything else is feathers, maybe he’ll cool off if you cool off his feet.” Mom held the hose and Dad held the bird. She let a trickle of cool water run over the bird’s little feet.
He moved a little. Then he opened his mouth a little, then he bent his head down and started to take little drinks from the trickle running over his feet. He drank, he fluffed his feathers, he drank some more. He sat up a little and moved his head around, looking at Sammy and his family, first with one eye, then the other. “Sammy, I think he’s starting to feel…Oh my goodness!”
The little hummingbird perked up and flew to land for just a second, right on top of Sammy’s head! His wings moved so fast you couldn’t even see them! He flittered and hummed around the family for about a minute. In the sun, Sam could see that he was a beautiful greenish blue. Then he zoomed off to the nearest tree. He could rest safely there. “Wow, Sammy! That cool water on his feet made all the difference.”
Whew! Sammy was feeling hot again, but he knew the best way to cool off. His brother and his mom and dad all went to sit on the dock and put their feet in the lake. It made all the difference.