Friday, July 19, 2013

A Little Something New

A couple of months ago I pulled this out of the regular rotation of dish towels. Hanging it up to dry after a launder, I felt how thin the base cloth was becoming. Rather than letting it fall apart, I decided to save it, to save this little scene. This is an inherited hand towel, from my Mom's side, made almost certainly by one of the many, many women who populated her rural small town childhood. And probably from an iron-on print. And it's lovely.

I didn't have any particular reason to use this little scene. I have been considering putting it on the Year of the Snake Blanket, as a kind of symbol on the border that represents the spring/summer/active side of Snakes' lives. But now it might actually just become some kind of journal entry to capture the story of a day earlier this week.

We've been part of the heat wave this week, with high humidity, high heat and clear afternoons full of searing sun. After a day of paper work, we had ventured out, to water the plants in containers. The guy who lives here was on the front porch, I was at the side of the house. I looked up and saw a former student walking up to the house. I called to her- what was she doing here? How nice to see her! Out of my sight was another neighbour from up the street, her dog chums around with our dog. And here's what happened.

My student was on her way to the library, walking by the house, when she saw a nestling on the grass underneath the new sycamore tree on the boulevard just up the street. The neighbour up the street happened to be walking by, saw what was happening and said "My friends [us] will know what to do", and so the two of them came, because WE would know what to do.

I ran to the get the ladder. My student stood to shade the baby, helping the mother who was valiantly trying to shade his featherless body from that hot sun. Mother Robin hopped off, and watched from a few feet away. The neighbour took the dogs into the yard to keep them busy. In minutes we had him popped back in the nest. Mother was back immediately. All day every day since, she was back and forth between our yard (lots to eat, lots of places to catch insects, lots of water) and her nest.

And what did I learn. I am old enough now to know it is a myth that a parent bird will reject a baby handled by a human. I am also old enough now to know that little rescue missions of this kind don't always work. I know that some bird parents are just too young to parent their first nestlings. I know this tree is barely strong enough to hold this nest. I know.

I made a crazy fool of myself, running up the street with my creaky old ladder, climbing dangerously high on that ladder, in full sight of rush hour traffic, and (it turns out) a half dozen neighbours, wearing muddy sweaty old clothes, hair a bushy fright, not to save a bird. I did it to honour the deep compassion of these two young people, my former student and my neighbour, standing there in front of my house, who wanted to do something.

Every day I should be so lucky. This little scene can now maybe remind me of the incredible ways that being in your place, on your street, in the life around you can give you chances to do things as wonderful as this thing we did that day.