Wednesday, August 15, 2007
Yesterday a bird dropped into our lives ... literally. My wife was leaving for work, and my daughter and I were busy performing our part of the daily door ritual. My job is to hold the fifteen month old, and the fifteen month old's job is to hold the door, and once every twenty or thirty seconds pop her head around the door and smile and giggle at her mother and then pop back behind the door. I was behind the door for what I had decided and announced would be the next to last time when I heard a thud followed by my wife's PG-13 rated exclamation of surprise. (For the record this show takes place between 7:30 and 7:45 every morning ... the neighbors must love us!) "Sam, look at this." AT that prompt, two of us poked our heads around the corner and were greeted with two sets of eyes on the other side. One set of eyes matched the blue pair attached to the remarkable and unfathomable being I was holding. The other set matched those of someone in Hubert Sauper's Kisangani Diary, someone not moving alongside the road. This bird was moving and it had all of it's body parts intact and maggot free, but on all accounts not by much. It looked like it had received a really bad haircut, engaged in an argument with the barber that turned violent, and been the victim of a failed attempt to gauge it's eye out (failed in the sense that the eye was still there, but not failed in the sense that much of the face was). I moved close to assess the situation, assessing situations is what I do best. My wife freaked out and told me to stay back. Had we been newly married, she would have launched into a litany of the diseases that I could contract and a description of the level of foolhardiness and even dereliction of duty that I was on the verge of engaging in. We've been married five years though, so she and I thought these things at the same time, glanced at each other, then altered our actions appropriately. Once she was gone and my daughter asleep, I glanced out. The bird was still there. Still alive. My experience told me that the bird wouldn't live for long, so I decided that inaction and periodic surveillance was the best course of action. You may ask "what experience?" Well this is only the fourth of God's creatures to come into our lives in less than pristine condition since we purchased our house less than a year ago. The first two were dead by the time we noticed them, and the third (the first bird), died shortly after I noticed it and ascertained that it was letting me walk right up to it. So, I expected this bird to die too. Maybe if I was lucky it would die before the garbage was picked up so I could just throw it away like I did the last bird. I didn't want to have to bury it the way I did the maggot filled and seriously decayed and stinky rabbit. I kept a close watch so that I could be there to hurry it to it's final, yet temporary, resting place. I watched to no avail. It didn't die. Once my daughter was up from her nap, we were in and out the front door quite a bit. The bird was always there, never far away, but never in the same place and never dead. It was mid afternoon that the voices of compassion and healing became louder. Should I have done something to put it out of its misery? If I had, I wouldn't be worried about it now. Should I have called a bird rescue place? Do they have them in Levittown? Should I have fed the thing? That last one appeared to be manageable. So, I decided I would do that if the bird's continued living corresponded with my daughter's next nap and me performing some of the basic tasks I needed to accomplish. These streams never converged, but at 4:00ish my daughter and I headed out to drop a few pieces of bread off. Once our mission of mercy was over, we headed upstairs. An hour later the bird was gone. How did I feel about it's disappearance. I was relieved, especially once I looked all around for it and failed to find it. I also felt as if maybe I'd been had by some elaborate bird begging scheme. At least I didn't have to bury the bird and wonder whether I should have done more. I do wonder what's next? A rabid opossum? An amputee skunk? A mole that can see?