Monday, September 15, 2008

the crow

= Every morning at 7:35 I am driving Lola Moon to 1st grade, just five minutes down the way, in our car White Magic. ( Ed's old blue battered Ford is Blue Thunder ) This morning was no different. Lola and I were chatting about her ballet and tap class, which starts today 5pm sharp! She's very excited. I came to a stop sign, and as I rolled up to it, something hurtled through the large tree to the right of me and fell with a thud in the path of my wheels. I came to a stop and took a second to decide if I should bother to see what it was- I was sure it was a branch from the tree. But I couldn't be sure, so I decided to look, and as I rose to get out of the car I saw one of the saddest, strangest sights: a large, glistening black crow on his back, his legs going slowly on an invisible bicycle.

Obviously, he was badly hurt. For a bird to be on his back, there is something terribly wrong. Crap. What was I going to do for a large bird with a large beak, notorious for hating people? I couldn't just leave him there. I put my hazards on, grabbed a jacket on the floor, and resolutely headed out to try to swaddle him up. As soon as he saw me coming, he let out a loud ' CAW!! ' and flopped over, righted himself, tucked an apparently broken wing under him, and hopped across the street. Bigger Crap. Now what?

As I debated, I started to pull my car into a driveway when I saw a poor unsuspecting, perfectly nice looking woman with her son, obviously heading off to school. I pulled next to them, window down, (noticing the cell phone in her hand) and asked her if she knew of an animal shelter nearby? She creased her brows. I explained about the bird, the broken wing, where he was. She raised her cell phone and started next door to where the crow was huddled in the doorway, and said ' I'll take care of it. '

I looked for him on my way back, and saw nothing. What could have happened to that bird, to make him fall out of the sky like a meteor? He left a soft, sad stain on the ground where he fell. Maybe he hit his wing on the edge of a tree branch, snapped it, and fell. Can you imagine the feeling...flying all your life, then suddenly feeling, for the first time ever, gravity pulling you like a mean ocean current to the ground?

The abject misery of that stunned bird on his back, legs going, was so striking that I want to sketch it, or paint it. It is one of those images that will remain in circulation in my mind. The helplessness, the confusion and indignity of that bird on his back reminded me of my grandparents in their nursing home, unable to change their own underwear or clip their own toes. I suppose they felt like that crow did when they struck out their hands at the attendent, or yelled at their children for pulling their socks on or buttoning their shirts. I can do it myself! The first and last cry of life.

Yesterday, there were firefighters clustered around a house in my neighborhood. People stood around, but didn't look too upset, so we stopped and asked a girl taking pictures what happened. She said there was a cat, stuck up in the palm tree. It's a hard life for an animal around these parts lately. Maybe that's why my dogs keep eating the cat food and the cats eat the dog food.

Cindy ~ My Romantic Home said...

Maybe it was West Nile Virus? I don't know if you have much of that going around where you live but we've had it a lot in my area. They've been spraying our area. I live in Silicon Valley so it's a highly populated area. We are supposed to report dead birds so they can test them for the virus.

Annie King said...

We've taken many a bird to our local Wildlife Care Center, usually a baby bird fallen out of the nest, and no mother around to take care of it. Let's hope the lady with the cell phone got help for the bird. It's amazing what they can do to help injured, sick, or baby birds. Your description of the bird was so vivid, I feel like I see it in my mind, the cycling legs, the sad stain.

beth coyote said...

My cats just beat the crap out of each other, leaving little tufts of fur around. Why, oh, why can't we all just get along?

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