Friday, May 28, 2010

Life's little gifts

I have been reading several books on writing as a creative process, and one of the universal threads that runs through each is the importance of paying attention to the details of life. It is so easy to miss what goes on around us in our rush to get on with our lives. We are so busy tending the forest that we forget to check on the individual trees.

This week, we had a nice opportunity to stop and appreciate one of life's little gifts. A baby crow had fallen from its nest. About six weeks old, its flight feathers were not yet fully formed, and it was unable to move far from where it fell. It sat, just the other side of a fence, next to a busy sidewalk, while its parents screamed at anyone who paused to look at it. There were no bushes in the area, and the space was too small for the parents to access it easily. They didn't abandon it, but they weren't feeding it, either.

We first saw it in the morning, then checked on it with each time we went out. In the afternoon, the mother was still mobbing people who got to close. But by evening, when we were on our way to dinner, she had disappeared. The baby's head lolled at a strange angle. It was getting cold, and we worried whether it would survive the night.

On our way home from dinner, we stopped again. Still no parents. The woman who owned the house saw us, opened a window, and asked if we wanted to take it with us. An older woman, she didn't feel up to the task of caring for it, but she didn't want to leave it to die, either. Having raised a fair number of birds between us, my husband and I didn't feel we could leave it, so we accepted. We took it home, got it to drink some water, and fed it a bit of food. And we let it sleep in warmth.

The next morning, it took one look at us and started calling. Initially, I thought it was calling for food, but in less than a minute, we heard the answering calls of two adults outside. The parents were still around! Knowing we could never provide better care than the parents, we put the baby on the balcony. But the parents wouldn't come near the enclosed space. They flew from rooftop to tree, calling back, but never getting close.

Finally we asked our downstairs neighbor if we could leave it in her garden. We installed it near some shrubs, and the mother immediately came to its aid. We ran away before she could peck us, and she spent the day feeding it. By evening, it had moved under the shrubs. We have seen the parents come and go, but not the baby since that time, so we can only assume that it is still alive and doing well. And we can be grateful that we were able to relocate it to a quiet place where its parents could care for it.

Which of life's little details have you experienced lately?

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