Tuesday, August 14, 2007

A metaphor for my life

I was sunning myself yesterday, sitting on a lounge chair next to my pool while Chicky slept, when I had the odd feeling that someone was watching me.

And there was.

A fluffy little bird (maybe a Winter Wren?) was sitting on the edge of my pool not seven feet away from me. Just sitting there. Not moving. Looking at me.

That's odd, I thought, I didn't notice that bird fly over here. I must be really into this book.

Which, if you are familiar with his books, is unfortunately not as good as most of the other books in this series.

But I digress.

So I watched this wee bird, who didn't seem to be very old at all, sit there next to the pool. I don't know how long we sat there like that - long enough that he seemed to fall asleep for a moment - but I was struck by the oddity of the situation. Why is he sitting there? Why doesn't he fly away when I make the slightest movement?

I had to investigate.

I moved to a sitting, instead of a lounging, position. He didn't move. I shimmied closer in my chair. He didn't move. I stood up. Yep, still not moving.

Well, that does it. He was obviously hurt and couldn't fly. I wondered if the hawk I had seen all summer circling our neighborhood (the one that probably ate my cat) got a piece of this poor bird.

Now, I should preface the rest of this story with a word about myself: As much as I love animals, I am not the one who rushes forward to be the first to help an injured squirrel, turtle, or bird. I'm practical when it comes to wild animals and birds, there's the circle of life and all that. And if we're being honest, birds freak the fuck out of me.

But I couldn't just let him stand there at the edge of my pool without doing something. What if he fell in?

I moved closer toward him and that scared the hell out of the poor bird. He started hopping away.

Well, that confirmed my fear. He couldn't fly. But damn, that bird could hop.

I walked briskly after him but every time I reached down he hopped out of reach. The little sucker, didn't he know I was trying to help? Bird brain.

By now you may be thinking what I was thinking: Bird flu. Uh huh. Probably not the smartest thing to touch the bird with my bare hands, so I went inside to get a towel. And, for good measure, a shoe box.

Found the towel but for once in my cluttered existence I did not have one shoe box in my closet. What are the freaking odds?

I finally found a shoe box. It held a bunch of metal curtain tie backs. Those tie backs have now been added to the clutter in my bedroom. They fit in well.

I went back out to the pool and there was the bird, right at the edge of the pool again. Poor baby, he was probably thirsty. Or needed a cool, refreshing dip.

I chased that bird through wet mulch (I didn't have shoes on) and over pea gravel. I stubbed my toe on the edge of my tomato box and swore a bit. Okay, a lot. But every time I threw the towel at the bird he would hop away. Even when I got the towel over him he hopped out from underneath it and away from me. Quickly.

In his frantic scramble for freedom the bird would occasionally lose his balance and flop over on this back, and that's when I got a chance to see some of the damage to his wing. It was bad. If the bird escaped my clutches and hopped into the dense overgrowth at the edge of my property he'd be cat food. I had to help this poor creature. It had become my mission to save him.

Let me tell you now that it was getting pretty late in the afternoon and Chicky had woken up from her nap. I could hear her singing to her baby doll in her crib through the monitor in my bedroom. It wouldn't be long before she started yelling for me. The pressure was escalating.

But if I catch this bird what the hell am I going to do with him, I thought. The cat will want to nibble on him and the dogs will have a conniption fit if they smell another creature in the house. They were already freaking out on the other side of the pool fence as they watched me chase this small being around the yard.

Fuck it, I thought, I'm getting crackers. After all, food works for the dogs (and for the cat, we don't call her Jabba the Cat for nothing) so maybe if the bird is really hungry he'll be more willing to acquiesce to my fumbling grasp. It could happen.

After grabbing a whole sleeve of Ritz crackers I ran outside... but there was no bird. Where the hell was the bird? I ran to the other side of the pool, Tweety's preferred spot.

I had already given the bird a name. I was in deep.

Oh, I'm sure you've got a better name for him, huh?

I started sprinkling cracker crumbs around his spot and into the shoe box where I had placed the towel, hoping he'd come to the crackers. I called to him, "Tweety! Tweety! Come here boy."

Oh my Christ. I hope my neighbors aren't watching.

I finally heard a small noise behind me. I looked back and saw...

Oh no!

Tweety's in the pool!
That poor bird is going to drown!

Where's the net?

Jesus Christ, where the hell is the net?

Where is the goddamnmotherfucking net?!

The one time my husband actually puts something away and this is what he picks. The net was wedged under the deck and the detachable pole that it was firmly attached to was stuck under heavy tubing and other pool cleaning supplies.

Hang in there buddy! I'm coming.

Tweety was struggling but he seemed to be keeping his head out of the water.

I struggled to detach the net from the pole.

And struggled some more. I didn't need that fingernail anyway.

Finally! I turned back toward the pool with the net, ready to scoop up my bird and deliver him to safety...

And he had stopped moving.


I scooped him up and frantically ran him to the shoe box. Ever so gently I laid him down in the towel-lined box,

"Come on buddy, wake up. Please wake up. Oh please, please wake up..."

I don't know what I was expecting: one of those Disney moments when the animal magically comes back to life?

Well, he didn't. I couldn't save him. I tried, but there was nothing I could do.

I couldn't save him.

And I cried.

Sitting next to my pool next to the wet carcass of an adolescent bird, I actually cried.

I couldn't save him.

Now that he was wet I could see the extent of his injuries. It was worse than I had thought. A portion of his wing was actually ripped away from his body and God only knows how long he had been like that: bleeding, without the ability to easily get food or water. No wonder he just sat by the pool, the poor guy was exhausted, disoriented and probably in shock.

I wouldn't have been able to save him.

I probably would have found him in the pool anyway, even if I hadn't chased the bird all over my yard. That's what I'm telling myself anyway.

Tweety is still in the shoebox, the cover closed to protect his remains, next to the pool where I left him. I think he deserves more than being flung out into the woods for the scavengers to get him. He deserves a proper burial. I didn't save him but I can do that for him.

Rest in peace, Tweety. I wish I could have done more for you, buddy.


The death of a bird shouldn't hit me this hard, but it is. Perhaps given what I've been through recently I've become more fragile myself. Easily broken like a bird's wing.

However, if any one of you dares to inquire why I didn't jump in the pool to save the bird, as my husband did (and yet I let him live - I have no idea why), or ask why I didn't give the bird mouth-to-beak resuscitation , so help me God I will come through this computer screen and bitch slap you. Don't mess with me. I'm mourning.


Ruth Dynamite said...

I feel your pain, Mrs. Chickster, friend of all animals.

I try to save them all too - like the baby mole I wrenched out of my cat's mouth, or the bird I wrenched out of my cat's mouth, or the live chipmunk my cat lovingly deposited in my daughter's bedroom...(do you sense a pattern here?)

Nature must take her course, despite our heroic, well-intentioned efforts. We can't save every one, but doggone it, we can still try.

Anonymous said...

Oh! Sweetie, you tried.

Mourn away....it helps.

Anonymous said...

That's heartbreaking!

I've done that several times...try to save something (mostly birds) and fail because it's just not meant to be.

I feel for ya. Sorry you had to lose Tweety. *hugs*

Avalon said...

Oh poor Tweety. Poor Mrs. C.

I saved two baby Robins last spring when they fell out of their nest. I made a makeshift home for them away from the elements. the Mother continued to come and feed them, and on day 6, when they scurried away after her, I may have shed a tear.

Lawyer Mama said...

Oh gosh, I tried to save a baby bird this Spring too. I have a post drafted about it.

I'm usually pretty pragmatic when it comes to wild animals too. It's a defense mechanism built up over time.

It's hard when those defenses come crashing down. ((HUG))

Whirlwind said...

Thats so sad. Rest in peace little Tweety.

Amie Adams said...

Even in this emotional moment you have me laughing my ass off.

I'm sorry for that incident. I like to think that we was communing with you, enjoying your company in what he must have known was the end. I believe he felt your calming presence.

Anonymous said...

How can something so sad still be so witty?!?!

After my uncle died I was feeling particularly sad and I was driving when a squirrel fell from the heavens (okay from a tree) onto the hood of my car out of nowhere and I killed him. Smack. I had to pull over and sob hysterically for 20 minutes.

I feel you babe. Big hugs

kittenpie said...

Oh, that would make me sad, too. I once pried a atill-moving mouse from Henry's jaws in hopes of saving it, though it was of course too late and the poor thing died a few hours later. It's good to let yourself have your moments, hon. Plus, this makes me love you even more.

NotAMeanGirl said...

Poor Mrs. Chicky. You tried. Tweety is in a better place. Birdie Heaven ROCKS from what I understand. ::blink blink:: THERE IS TOO A BIRDIE HEAVEN!!! ::fingers in ears singins "Lalalalalalaalala"::

Binky said...

Either you are super duper nice, or I'm one helluva insensitive bitch. Actually, why did I make that an either/or proposition? You ARE super duper nice, and I AM a big ol' bitch. I wouldn't even have comprehended that the bird was hurt. I would've thought it was lovely that s/he decided to join me on a relaxing poolside rendezvous. Probably I would've waved as the bird hopped away.

As you can imagine, I would not dare ask why you didn't jump in to save the bird or why you didn't administer mouth to beak. Quite frankly, that would've pushed you over the edge from super duper nice to...I don't know what.

Kizz said...

Oh, you couldn't have jumped in and saved him or tried resuscitation. They have very fragile little hearts and you did everything right. It just leaves a little weight of guilt and sorrow on the day no matter what, though. Sorry it didn't turn out better!

Kyla said...

I'm sorry. About Tweets (short for Tweety, of course) and about the larger issues here. It is hard. You did your best and that is no small thing. Sometimes things are just out of our hands.

motherbumper said...

I would have done everything exactly the same (same thought process too and naming) and I would have cried like a toddler. Whenever I have some stress in my life, it's moments like this that make my tears flow. (((hugs))) Ms. Chicky, you aren't alone with this reaction.

carrie said...

It's those little things that can undo us when we're down. Big hugs.

That said, could you please come over here to my place and take care of the effing crows that perch on top of the basketball hoop and stare at me through the bathroom window when I get out of the shower! Thanks! Appreciate it! :)


flutter said...

Oh Chicky...

Jacquie said...

Poor Tweety, you did you best.

If anything I guess you can be happy Tweety wasn't a reincarnated pervert sitting and "staring" at you.

mamatulip said...

You have a heart of gold.

At Oliver's birthday there was a little bird on the grass by our sun porch that looked completely mangled. I thought it was dead for sure and called for Dave to help me when it jumped up and flew away, just like that. Scared the crap out of me.

Namito said...

You've got a hell of a lot of grief to get through, my friend. Tweety just helped you go through some of it.

Damn special bird, if you ask me.

S said...

Oh, oh, oh! I would have been right there crying beside you, friend.

What a story.

Phoenix said...

Sometimes a small thing happening will give you the freedom to mourn.

I'm sorry you couldn't save Tweety. (I do love the name.)

Jenny said...

I think I would've cried too. You can, it's okay.

Tania said...

You've got me crying. I had a similar event, except that it was my dog who caused the bird's injury. I did manage to catch it and drive it out to Woodbridge to the animal resue centre, but the injuries were too severe, and it died anyways. Poor little Amro. I bawled the whole time I was driving.

painted maypole said...

I nearly didn't go on a date in college because I ran over a squirrel on the way there and was so distraught - and I wasn't even trying to SAVE it.

Kila said...

First of all, good writing. I was hooked.

And I'm so sorry. Really. I would have cried, too. My boys have tried to save baby birds fallen from their nest, and it's sad when they die after all our efforts.

This morning my five year old walked into the house carrying a wild RABBIT! I'm not kidding. An injured rabbit. (I'll post a photo on my blog later today.) I told him to PUT IT OUTSIDE under a bush where it would be safe. I'm sure we'll be nursing that darn rabbit, giving it food and water, and then crying when it finally dies.

Lisa said...

OH sweets. For what its worth, I'm crying with you...

FENICLE said...

Oh my! There was a bluebird that couldn't move much in our backyard this weekend (I didn't realize this until I'd let the dog out). She tried to get away and couldn't fly. Thankfully the dog didn't get to her before I yelled. But we found it later on dead. I think it was this freakin heat!!!

EUC said...

Oh man that sucks - and it was so good of you to try to help him. I'm the same way. We often have birds smuck into our big windows and every time I run outside to help, and the times I can do nothing totally break my heart.

Jenifer said...

Birds dcare the fuck out of me too....

And I would have done the same thing to try and help him. And I would have cried when I couldn't too.

Sometimes the cold hard reality of life really sucks.

Blog Antagonist said...

You poor thing. You have a kind heart.

My boys found an injured bird the other day and wanted to bring it inside to save it. Husband looked at the bird and realized he would never make it. He broke it to the boys as gently as he could. They were incensed that Husband was going to just let it die. They were very angry with him. Husband tried to explain that it was really the kinder thing to do, and I think eventually they got it. But they were very, very morose the rest of the day.

They say you can tell a lot about people by how they treat children and animals. I think that's true.

Anonymous said...

At the beach, my 13-year-old nephew was cracking hermit crabs' shells and pulling them out. I made him stop.

"A person is a person, no matter how small." - Horton Hears a Who (Dr. Seuss)

Anonymous said...

Aw, I feel badly for poor Tweety. Not the best way to end a life, being chased by a crazy lady who wants desperately to help him despite the fact that he was too much of a bird brain to figure out what help is all about.

But what I really have to say is, "You have a POOL?"

Alex Elliot said...

I would have done the same thing. I also would have cried too.

Amy said...

I would have cried, too.

Grief is hard work.

Tela said...

How weird. Something very similiar happened to me just the other day. A little bird was sitting on our walkway. Sitting there looking super sad and fluffy--even though it was damn near 100 degrees. (You know how they fluff out their feathers if they get cold or something?) Anyway, I walked right up to it, and the bird just sat there. I leaned over, and it just sat there. I leaned over further--just sat there. I was convinced it was dying and needed saving--even though it had no visible injuries. Just as I was bending over even further and coming to the decision that I needed to go get gloves to help this weird bird (and to protect myself from the bird flu--just like you) he up and flew away. I think I jumped about 200 feet into the air.

Maybe it was Tweety's brother.

Radioactive Tori said...

I am so sorry! I can completely imagine how you must have felt. You are very kind to have even tried to help though.

OhTheJoys said...

Fairly soon after learning of my Great, Great Grandmother's death, I witnessed a great monarch butterfly flap it's wings for the last time in my hand.

Girlplustwo said...

oh honey. the grief comes in waves, doesn't it...and these reminders that life is continually starting and ending.

Blog Owner said...

Well, at least you haven't lost your sense of humor! Dang funny, well written post for a girl in bird mourning.

I'll observe a moment of silence for Tweety tonight. I'll wait until my husband starts telling me a boring work story, then I'll impose the silence.

You are an awesome story teller!

Creative-Type Dad said...

Wow- that's wild.

I think he knew it was coming.

Anonymous said...

I would have done the same thing, and cried like mad afterwards.

In some ways I'm still the little girl trying to save the world, and it sounds like you are, too. As a kid, I tried to help every stray animal, baby bird, mouse, etc. Many of the animals I tried to care for didn't really have a chance of making it, but I still tried.

My only success was a baby squirrel we found who had fallen out of his tree. We fed him by hand and he grew up to be a very nice squirrel, although never a wild one.

You did what you could, and sometimes it doesn't matter. At least you tried to help him in his last moments.

ms blue said...

Oh that is hard.

About a month ago, I saw a very small bird successfully run across a busy highway. Yes run, not fly. It was bizarre. I worried about that little guy.

BOSSY said...

Aw fer fuck's sake, luv, you're an angel.

Anonymous said...

I am so sorry... you did what you could.
Your post was written so great... I just love love love reading your blogs!!
- Audrey
PInks & Blues Girls

Anonymous said...

Aw, Mrs. Chicky. I'm sorry.

I'm crying too. Poor damn Tweety.

Anonymous said...

Awww, poor Tweety...and poor you. Grieving sucks. I'm sorry.

Bri said...

Oh poor Tweety! And poor Mrs. Chicky! I would have done the same thing and probably cried the whole time.

Bon said...

i have tears in my eyes, Mrs. Chicky, for that poor little bird and all the powerless things that we are powerless to save.

you are good, for trying. sorry 'bout that fingernail, and all...but i'm glad you tried. even if you wouldn't have been able to help.

i sometimes think that instinct, to help, is all the human race has going for us anymore...and is the only decent thing we really have to pass on to our kids.

i'm sorry Tweety didn't make it, poor little.

Heather said...

This endears you to me.

josetteplank.com said...

Oh no!

Oh...I'm so sorry. Oh...you tried so hard.

I would have done the same thing, yes, from the fingernail break to sobbing at the end.

And no, I won't tell you how my sister once gave a cat mouth-to-mouth resucitation. Because even St. Francis gets grossed out at THAT story.

Mrs. Schmitty said...

AWww....I'm so sorry.

Anonymous said...

So sorry about Tweety, but think of the story he has now to tell his birdie buddies in bird heaven!

And mouth to beak? Jump in the pool? That's a bit crazy I think. I'm in FL and you just never know what kind of west nile encephalitis bird flu you might catch touching a wild bird. Ew.

But a nice burial for him in a shady spot would be nice.

Julie Pippert said...

Hey it makes sense: once you decided to help, you cared and invested.

Sorry it turned out this way. (HUG)

Can I say this was an amazing telling of the story and I was on the edge of my seat,and felt down with you when the birdie, well, met his fate?

Ravin' Picture Maven

Anonymous said...

I was so hoping for a happy ending.

Science For Kids

Her Bad Mother said...


Tears dripping off of my chin. GAH.

You sweet, sweet lady.

Anonymous said...

A warning to those tipsy on red wine, would have been nice darling.

I'm already tender...missing my Bug a bit more than usual, and now I'm bawling over a bird.

Damn you.

I'm sorry for your loss.

Fairly Odd Mother said...

OH! You have a heart of gold. I'm sorry you couldn't save that little bird.

Anonymous said...

Once upon a time, in the distant past, my daughter found and brought home a teeny, tiny bird that had fallen from the nest. It was so little, it had no feathers. I took one look and said "There's no way we can save it honey, it's too tiny, it doesn't even have feathers." Several years later as I was picking up bird seed with my regular grocery shopping.....Miss Penney, as we named her, lived to be 9 years old. She spent her life in a large bird cage and was much adored by my daugher. Sometimes you CAN help and it's always good to try. Sorry you weren't able to save Tweety, but I sure understand the need to try.

Lauren said...

Mrs. Chicky,
I'm so sorry for this apparently pointless afternoon expedition. Remember, nothing is pointless. You tried hard for a good reason. Chicky Baby will be proud of your effort someday. (You do make me laugh through the most trying times though.)

The Estrogen Files said...

Bitch slapping aside, I'm glad you tried. It's hard to see someone or something in pain. (((HUGS)))

Damselfly said...

Aw, if that had been me, it would have ruined my day too.

I love the way you tell your stories!

Kimberly said...

Oh. Poor thing. :-(

You did all you could.

I try to save them too. One summer, my cat found a nest of baby bunnies and pulled them out, day after day, one by one. I saved some. Others, I couldn't. I cried too. There's no shame in that - compassion is a good thing. The world could use more of it.

Sorry for your loss.