Chapter One: The Pigeon

Last weekend I was taking my weekly vineyard hike through our Redwood Valley Ranch, and there on the ground was the most beautiful bird you could imagine! I said, “What is that?” And my puppy Pistol rushed toward him and I told the dog to stop, so I could get a little closer. A pigeon?

I’ve never seen a pigeon so black and shiny, with white tips on its wings and this amazing white head. It was so perfectly manicured, I couldn’t believe it. The dog went after it again and it started to fly, but only made it up to a low branch, about five feet up, just enough so the dog couldn’t reach him.

I kept saying, “Wow, what is it?” Now my face was about 12 inches from the bird and it just sat there and looked into my eyes. I could see it had a little band on its foot. That’s when I knew it was somebody’s special bird.

That poor creature was clearly weak and tired and probably hadn’t eaten or had water in quite some time. I reached out with my hand to see if he would step onto my finger. He flapped his wings but he was too frail to fly. I put my hand gently around his chest and with my other hand on top of him, I picked him up. I started stroking his tiny head and he began to relax against my hand. 

I asked the guy I was with if he could take him home, since he lives in the area, but he said he couldn’t have a bird in his house. And my wife Amy looked at me and said, “You’re not going to do it!”

This was obviously someone’s bird- probably a show bird. I couldn’t leave him out there to die.

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Chapter One: An Unlikely Friendship

A couple of weeks ago I was driving down Fifth Street West in Sonoma and all of a sudden a thought came to me and I pictured someone damaging concrete at my construction site. I drove over and sure enough, three kids were carving their names in the sidewalk. I stopped in the middle of the street. They ran. I detained the last kid and held on to him. He said, “I don’t want to go to jail. I don’t want to get in trouble.” I told him to relax.

I asked for the names of the two other guys and he gave them to me. I called the police and had those two arrested.

The kid, Lyle, and I talked for a while. He said he hasn’t seen his father in eight years. He and his mom live with his grandmother because they can’t afford to live on their own. He had tears in his eyes.

I gave him my card and said, “Maybe that’s the reason I drove down here and the reason your friends damaged my concrete. I’d like to try and make a difference in your life. Call me and I’ll try to help you.”

Sure enough, Lyle took me up on the offer and now we get together for coffee, send text messages and talk almost every day.

During one of our many conversations, I told him something my father told me. “Before you do anything in life, say to yourself, ‘What’s the worst that could happen from this?’ And if you don’t like that, don’t do it.”