Stuck on the ground.

It must have happened. Picture it. You’re in prehistoric times. Cave people rubbing their eyes, waking up to the possibilities of intelligent thought. Looking around. Thinking. Wanting. Imagining…. one of them sees a bird. What’s the first thing this early human is thinking? (After “wonder what it tastes like”…).

That early human is thinking, “Jeez, wish I could fly like that!” There’s a tentative flapping of hairy arms, innocent hoping, resounding disappointment. Flap all you want, Grork, messy hair ain’t feathers. And you ain’t getting off the ground ‘til you get smart enough to invent aviation.

Prehistory repeats itself with human kids throughout time. A child of today sees a bird and thinks (after “wonder what it tastes like”)… “Jeez, wish I could fly!” There’s a tentative flapping of chubby arms. Disappointment repeats itself through the millennia.

The beautiful reality of avian life, and surely one of the factors behind the universal human need to become two-fisted birdwatchers…is that birds are built to fly. We have envied them through the ages, and that includes this morning…

You’re in your car at a stop sign near a suburban park. A Canada Goose calmly walks across the road in front of you. So you wait. He casually puts one clown-sized foot in front of the other. Step, step. You gotta wonder, “Why does a goose cross the road?”

This is NOT a reference to the old chicken joke. You’re in no mood for jokes. It’s an honest question. You think: hell, if you had wings you sure wouldn’t walk. You’d have flown to where you’re going. You’d have eyeballed the whole city from a bird’s-eye view just for fun. You’d have climbed high. Soared like a Top Gun jet. Banked, swooped, power-dived …A “honk” behind you! Not a goose. A driver in a car. This breaks your flight of imagination.

The guy’s wondering why you’re not moving. You realize the goose in front of you has now waddled to the curb and is off the road. You hit the gas. As you drive away, you muse about a curious fact of nature…

There are no animals, other than birds and humans, that walk on two legs. How can species that are so biologically different—we’re mammals and they’re hatched—be the only ones to have “bipedalism?” You try to imagine if there are any other bipeds. Kangaroos? No, they use tails and front legs sometimes. Apes? They’re not built for walking. Forget it.

Chalk it up to just another curious fact of life on Planet Earth. Where you’re stuck on the ground.

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