‘Sparky’s Big Adventures’


Sparky the drone dipped lower over the tree, its low-battery alarm and lights beeping frantically as I tried desperately to steer it out of the woods and onto the lawn. I was scrambling through the muck, trying to keep it in sight, and my foot got sucked into one of the many gloppy pits which make up my backyard. Then Sparky crashed into the branches, bounced a bit farther down. and then stopped. About 50 feet up. 

This was Sparky’s second big adventure. 

It came about because Sparky was jealous of his little friend, Minni. Minni lives in Alaska and its person dares to fly it very high, dancing in the sky above the mountains of Alaska, which start from sea level and rise to Denali, which from base to peak is the highest mountain on earth. 

Sparky’s lucky to get to see the tops of the trees here. Sparky mainly goes up and down a few feet and looks at the roof and the second floor wall the pressure washer doesn’t reach. 

When we bought the house, we barely looked at the yard. I may have imagined myself in long, flowing dresses with flowers in my hair, doing some sort of Isadora Duncan thing among the trees and rocks. But really, our woods are a steep landscape of sticks and stones and sucking holes and puddles, and we have to outfit ourselves in sturdy boots, pants and shirts to avoid Lyme-carrying ticks. Also, I probably couldn’t do an Isadora Duncan thing without tangling in knots. 

Sparky had already had one adventure, when we were visiting the area to look at places to which we might retire. Then, Sparky had just come to live with us, and I was so excited to play with it that I sent it up in a clearing to try and get a nice bird/drone’s-eye view of the neighborhood.

Instead I steered it badly and it caught on a branch at least 40 feet up a tree. Finagling the remote control to try and free it only got Sparky lodged further. We threw things at it to try and knock it off. We found a long broken branch and tried to reach it and push it off the branch. 

It didn’t get loose. 

We could see it far over our heads, but we couldn’t do a thing to get it down. We went to sleep, heartbroken.

That night, a northeaster blew in and rained and howled for two days straight. The winds should have brought the drone down. They didn’t. We could see one of Sparky’s propellers dangling off a branch overhead; we could see it swinging in the wind and rain, and we despaired about whether it would survive if we could get it down at all. 

Sunday morning at 8:15 a.m., a backhoe started working right next to our cabin, just what you don’t want on a vacation weekend. But after getting dressed and brushing my teeth, I went out and asked if they could help. 

After doing whatever they were hired to do at 8 a.m. on Sunday, one, taking a long pole, climbed into the backhoe’s front basket and using it like a cherry picker, rode up, knocked the branch and got the drone loose. It crash-landed, of course. 

We thought there was no hope it could have lasted beyond the rain and the wind and the crash landing.

Looking back, I realize the rescuer would have preferred a generous tip instead of the hug I gave him. But Sparky was fine and I was too relieved and excited to think straight.

Now, at Sparky’s second fun trip into branches, as I was frantically searching the internet for some way to help it, my husband was quietly keeping an eye on the tree it was in; he couldn’t see Sparky at all. Then a very gentle breeze shook the leaves just a mite, and Sparky reappeared. Slowly, softly, branch by branch, it bounced down the Norwegian pine, landing near Mark’s feet. 

Once again, Sparky survived beautifully.

Watch the video Sparky took during its second adventure at

drone, sparky, adventure


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