And so this week’s moment of happiness despite the news.
When a moment of happiness is caused by a dead bird’s skull looking in your front door, well, I suppose you just gotta wonder. I sure have been.
I’ve had a lot of odd things happen around animals, especially when I’m traveling. In Oregon, I walked the beach one morning and a pelican fell out of the sky and landed two feet in front of me. And I mean fell and I don’t mean nice gentle typical feet-first bird landing. I mean WHUMP. If I’d been walking a little faster, I likely would have been killed. This was a big, big bird. And bear in mind I’m scared of birds.
As I skittered away from him, it became clear that this pelican wasn’t well. He was alive, but no matter how close I got to him, he just sat there. I called the local aquarium and left a message. The rest of the day, I sat by the pelican and protected him from curious children. When night fell, I wished him well and went inside. In the morning, he was dead, but he was stretched out in the sand in full flight formation. Wings wide. Feet flying behind him. Amazing. The aquarium showed up and told me it was a pelican that wasn’t natural to the area, but must have been thrown off course by a hurricane. They took him away. But he remains in my mind.
In Maine, I grew frustrated with the rocky beaches. I was recovering from a back injury and sciatica and the rocks just made it too perilous for me to get to the water. There was a sandy beach at a state park close by. It necessitated my walking about a mile through a forest, and well, like birds, I am scared of forests. But I did it, just to set my feet in the ocean. On the way back, I heard a sound I’d only heard on a television show before, specifically, The Waltons. A bear. Walking beside me, just a line of trees between us, was a bear. Aching back and hip and all, I did the exact wrong thing. I ran. Thinking back now, I don’t believe the bear meant me any harm. He was escorting me through the woods.
There have been others. And now…a dead bird skull, looking up at me when I opened my front door. What the hell? There were no other bird parts. Just a tiny white skull.
I posted a photo of it on Facebook and people didn’t believe it was real. “It’s plastic,” they said. Hopeful, I went back downstairs and picked it up. No, it was real. Ew, ew, ew. I brought it in and put in on my desk. I was told it was illegal to keep it and illegal to throw it away. So what the hell was I supposed to do with it?
Late that night, I sat at my desk and stared at the skull and it stared at me. And then I remembered a This Week’s Moment from 10/11/18. We’d been experiencing a bunch of dead sparrows on our front sidewalk, caused, I believed, by the drunken flying after eating intoxicating berries, which were in full ripeness. On that day, I found a bird obviously near death in our parking lot. I couldn’t stand to think of it sitting there, a sitting duck, if you will, for a car to run over. So I pulled on a pair of gardening gloves, held the little bird at arm’s length from me (ew, ew, ew, ew!) and carried him down the block, across a street, and over a parking lot to the river, where I set him down under a berry bush that his kind loved so well. It was a peaceful place to die. Like the pelican, I wished him well and I left.
A peaceful place to die. And now this skull. Just sparrow size.
Maybe a cameo appearance to say thank you? So I said, “You’re welcome,” picked up the skull, carried it down the block, across the street, over a parking lot to the river and the berry bush where my little bird died last fall. I placed the teeny skull down, wished him well, and returned home.
It felt right.
I was called superstitious earlier this week. I wonder sometimes how superstition and faith differ. They both rely on believing in something we can’t see. I remembered there being a bible quote about sparrows, and so I looked it up. In the book of Luke, Chapter 12, Verse 6, it says, “Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God.”
I haven’t forgotten either. Not pelican. Not bear. Not sparrow.
It felt right.
And yes, that helps. Despite. Anyway.
(If you want to see the post about the sparrow, look at the menu to the right and click on October 2018, then scroll to October 11. )