Tiny Stories, Tiny Tales

(This was all written out for yesterday but due to some lovely changes to my blog, the blog wasn't ready for an entry till my programmer swung by again)

 

When you get up in the morning and go about your business, it’s never clear what’s going to happen. I starting cleaning out the trunk of my car at about 11 or so and that's when I saw him. He was part robin, part fuzzy baby and no tail to be seen. Half a robin. He jumped up to me, cheeping, contemplating and staring. Very clearly he was asking, "Are you my mommy? Just feed me!" but there was a sweetness there too. He came right up to my toes, cheeping at me.

I did what anyone would do: I rushed to the Internet and found the number for the local Forest Preserve's Nature Center. I called and a guy told me that fledglings get out of the nest and fly around on the ground. They still need their parents to feed them but since birds are very auditory and visual, the parents would find their baby. So I left the birdie. The parents would come.

They never did. The short hours passed and he stayed in one place, not moving. Fledglings need to be fed every twenty minutes. It was now two o'clock and he looked like a tiny statue. He was doing what all animals do when the time comes…he was preparing to die and wasn't going to make a fuss anymore.

That was it. Screw the Red Oak Nature Center guy. Screw them all. Someone, somewhere took care of ailing wild birds. So I hopped back to the Internet and found the Fox Valley Wildlife Center. Why the Red Oak Nature Center never gave me this number, I shall never know. Anyway, I called them and after what seemed forever (45 min.) they called me back. Bring him into Elburn, they would see what could be done. I found a box, Jeff and I bundled him in and I sped off. I plowed into rush hour, hitting every light on Randall Road and trying not to swear like a sailor. It took another 45 minutes to get out there to Elburn. Worse and worse. This little guy was going down and I prayed and I prayed even more that he wouldn't die in the car. Dear God, not in rush hour, do not let this baby robin die in this car. The implications for what that could mean seemed too terrible (they still do).

I got him there still barely alive and the lady whisked him off, telling me he had a 50/50 chance. I gave them some money and went home with a terrible headache and a number to call tomorrow to see if he had made it.

(That was the action of the day; this is what the evening writing brought)

I guess the truth is that I didn’t let that baby bird die. He might be dead but I gave it my best shot and instead on dwelling that I lessened his chances for life by trusting someone at the Nature Center, I’m seeing I persisted and saw that he got to the right place in the end which was the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center. I did take care of him and simply didn’t let him pass away back into the earth. And if he passes, he does. I prayed for him and his little soul and I feel that was good. Animals aren’t like us. It was terrible to see him starve and grow fainter and fainter but it wouldn’t have lasted very long and then he would have been gone- a very short life and short death. As it was, I gave him a possible retaliation of life to become a jaunty robin who does jaunty robin worm things. We’ll see tomorrow if he was able to hang onto being here. And instead of grinding myself into the dust that I didn’t question the Nature Center sooner when he was cheeping and hopping around and being friendly, I have the calm belief that I did aid him. I had to see that his parents wouldn’t come and they never did. I know now, of course, how to deal with a fledgling and how many hours they have from not being fed till when they start dying and where to take them in-between those small short hours. He has a little number and tomorrow I’ll call that forest preserve house in Elburn and see the status of his little number. I hope, of course, for life. I’m really hoping for life and I know that I worked towards it and not to death.

 

And now today, I just got the call back an hour ago from the Wildlife Center. He's doing just fine. Since he's wild and a baby animal, he could still die but he's hanging in there and it looks like he'll make it. They're going to be hand feeding him for awhile!

I just want to say how amazing the Wildlife Center is. That anyone would care about wild animals and tend to them is an enormous gift. I would encourage everyone to find your Wildlife Center and make a donation, be it food, money or weeds! Ours is entirely dependent on donations and seem to need a bit of everything. I'm sure it's the same with other places. They are incredible, hard-working places.

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Tides of Snow and Ice

This winter has been a continuous series of freezes and thaws: it’s the warmest winter on record, the tenth one in a row. A more usual winter starts with a deep freeze and then stays cold for months. Instead, snow falls, piles up and vanishes; rises up again and retreats, now falling as rain, swelling rivers and creeks. Rain and snow mingle together until everything runs with water; hillsides and flat-sides are coated in a deep, dark mud.

I stopped on my walk today, halted by a sudden flash of gold. The sunset rays were falling into a tiny puddle spanning the space between the root and trunk of a maple. The puddle reflected gold and silver on top and below was dark mud, black and brown, full of microorganisms and other tiny creatures unseen by the human eye. I briefly considered putting my hand to the shining surface. It beckoned, winking like a diamond, but pull of my walk was irresistible and I continued forward. 

Mud is for March and April, mud so thick and heavy that it can pull shoes off and make them disappear like a magic trick beneath the solemn and still brown. Mud in February is a strange slight, an awakening that shouldn’t be occurring yet. It’s all the more cruel because even though the temperatures rise, they inevitably dip into the single digits and everything freezes solid. Many times I’ve spotted squirrels and tiny birds on the creek’s ice, searching for openings to drink from.

During this particular thaw, the creek casts off ice, it’s center opening like a dark cut. The water sings as it cascades over the rocks, proclaiming it’s momentarily relief from the grip of winter. In Scandinavian folklore, there is a belief that given the proper offerings, a creek could teach a human how to play the most bewitching music. I crouch down near the creek, record a video of it singing on my phone and replay its music in the evening while lying on the couch. I should give something in return for the pleasure of its song and I consider. Perhaps some lavender buds I have stored away for a certain recipe, or a small pinecone I keep on a shelf to admire, or birch bark I retrieved from a favorite tree cut down years ago. 

The next day I return, and after waiting for a few dogs and their owners to pass by, I crouch next the side of the creek and sprinkle lavender buds into the small, clear stream. The buds vanish as soon as I drop them into the water– as if they never existed. I drop some more in and the same occurs; they’re gone before I can blink. The current flows by, washing over stones, fleeting by banks of mud, until it vanishes around the bend where the pine trees tower overhead.

As I gaze at the water, first downstream and then upstream, my own self quiets, stills, and momentarily dissolves into the landscape. The relief, though short, is palpable. Alone becomes together and perhaps that is what’s this practice of thanking the creek has been about all along.

Winter in the Time of Climate Change

There is a stream near my home and I walk along it nearly every day; I know its moods and seasons nearly as well as I know my own. We are family and our connections are pure: we’re both made of water.

Every day brings more distressing news about the environment. Big changes need to happen but whatever change that does happen is so slow. Global warming is now being felt by everyone, some more than others. I go out and walk along the stream when the news and all the unfortunate future unknowns press in too hard. Right now, it is running fast. This winter has been a series of freezes and thaws. November hit hard with a heavy, deep freeze and I expected this to lead to a  white Christmas but instead, it’s been a muddy, wet winter, full of more temperate days than frosty ones. The thermometer rides up and down, every day propelled by a bouncing ball rather than a steady progression of tiny fluctuations.

The stream locks and then unlocks. It accepts each freeze and thaw with inestimable grace. After reading the news, it is hard to know what is near or far, here and up in the sky, in the mind or in the present moment. But the stream is always present, it knows no other moment. It lives in eternity; as David Hockney said, “It’s always now. It’s now that’s eternal.”

The creek is still here, I think to myself whenever I see it, it is still living. It runs forward through this strange January, sometimes under the ice and sometimes not. Patches of green moss dot the banks nearby, beyond that the nearby plants are broken, brown, and dried. They are asleep, listening to things I cannot hear, dreaming of things I barely know of.