It’s The Little Things

This weekend I was throwing trash out of my car as it was being prepped for some body work, when I heard scratching come from the bottom of the dumpster. The sound stopped quickly, but when I made a noise- trying to provoke the source – the scratching began again. I immediately thought it had to be a raccoon, stuck from the night before when it was digging for some food.

I had Alex move some trash around to see what it could be because I was scared of some monstrous raccoon who just pulled an anxiety-ridden all-nighter to come out and have its way with my face. So yes, I let a boy handle all that.

He picked up a small box and unveiled, lo and behold, a baby bird.  We were both surprised because the noise it was making left no suspicion that it was anything but a bigger animal. I immediately felt overwhelming sympathy and a swarm of frenzied “what do I do now” thoughts attacked my brain. 

I put on some rubber gloves and took it out of the box and onto some dirt in the shade. The little bird was entirely too small to fly and could only walk backwards. To make my heart melt even more was when it opened its mouth to me for food.

I took the box into the shop and put some paper towels in it and put my new buddy back in while I searched the area around the dumpster to see where the nest could be. I saw nothing except an overhead air conditioning unit but there was nothing in or around it. I commenced mass Google searches before I realized that there was really nothing I could do to help save his life.

While my car was being worked on, three hours or so, I stayed with the helpless little fella and even got him to drink water when I suctioned some with a straw. Some websites advised not to do this, but I figured there was no harm in trying.

The whole concept of survival of the fittest daunted over me for hours. I watch those National Geographic shows and understand this is all a part of life, it is how nature works, but I do get upset when the weaker animal is overtaken. I am an extremely sensitive animal lover who pictures a Pocahontas-esque future where all animals live in harmony and eat… twigs and berries.

I named him Darwin, and maybe this was just in my mind, but when I would get up to do something, he would turn his head as I walked. He soon began chirping, and stared at me while I tried to get work done on my computer.

I went back outside to investigate the dumpster area when I saw a small dark brown, maybe black bird with a worm in its mouth watching me. Do I sound crazy yet? I ran into the shop and peaked my head around when I saw the bird going into a hole where the doorknob would be on a wooden, unused door- which I successfully overlooked earlier- that was situated in back of the dumpster. I ran inside and put Darwin and his box on the cover of the garbage and went back inside to snipe the situation.

It was the mother. With some time she would perch on the box but not feed Darwin, she only looked at him. I called Alex over to check what was going on behind the door. Sure enough, two little baby birds just like Darwin looked up at us.

I almost died of happiness. My car was just about done being worked on and I knew that leaving would only result in guilt and sadness if I had to leave Darwin where I found him. I made Alex put gloves on and put him with his family, and with some time, the mother returned and left again, bringing back food for her three little babies.

How Darwin got into the dumpster I will never be sure of, but an update per my constant naggy requests that came in just an hour ago said the birds are still together behind the door, and there have been signs of the mother leaving and returning.

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It is always the little things that catch my deepest emotions off guard. I love to find myself in situations where I can help, even if it meant spending three hours with a bird whose chance of survival was bleak. It is always the little things that make me grateful to be who I am, someone who is capable of actually finding happiness with the simple world around them.

My Special Earth Day Celebration

Very late in the morning on Thursday I looked up at the night sky, swaying to some good tunes with a beer in my hand, friend Jonny by my side when I saw two shooting stars. The first was bright orange and fell from the dark night like an ember from a campfire; slow in both its freefall and its fading. The second was a minute or so later, yellow- almost white- streaming across the night sky as fast as possible- running away from any witnesses I would call.  It is not so often one would see a shooting star in Connecticut, the sky is polluted with industrial lights, domestic lights, and well… pollution (according to my semi-educated guess thanks to my addiction to National Geographic telelvision). I ran inside to my phone to look up if something had been going on. This weekend was the Lyrid Meteor Shower. A few days early, I called it as a prequel to the show, but it gave me an infectious itch for more of nature; nature is all I wanted from that moment on. I sat and I waited, but no more shooting stars graced me with their presence.

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I sincerely thought Earth Day 2012 was on Friday. I mass texted my small group of good friends exclaiming my impatience to plant something, to be active, to “go green” and maybe stay that way from there on out.

I wanted to buy them all

Now, I had read a decent amount of articles; newspapers, Twitter, Yahoo! News, television commercials, etc., and come to think about it, they all made it extremely clear what date Earth Day actually fell on.

So it is Friday, the sun is shining despite contrary weather forecasts and the texts are flowing. My friend Chris is the first to respond, and he was at my house within 30 minutes.

“I want to plant a tree on Earth Day. It is part of my Life List!” I kept saying over and over, upping my annoying-factor one point with every increase in vocal pitch.

I was truly excited to buy a tree. I do not really know why I had presumed Home Depot would have all the answers, but I envisioned their garden center filled with young, homeless trees just waiting for me to come and save them from home goods wholesale hell. I was hyper at the illusion of saving just one of those baby trees; Maple trees, Dogwoods, Oaks, Pine.

I wanted to really do something worthwhile on Earth Day for the first time. The need was not to fulfill another Life List challenge, but to be with my best friends- digging in the dirt on a beautiful day- to put a tree down where another tree is uprooted somewhere in the world, helpless and at the mercy of big business.

That is me, post tree-quest rampage

All cynicism aside.

There was no euphoric, Twilight-esque meadow of trees waiting to be sold to Earth Day tree huggers like myself. I saw an array of cacti, hanging house plants, carnations, impatiens, daisies and what have you for front yard decor and a vast variety of shrubbery. Like a kid in a candy store without a dime, there I stood confused and on the borderline of a tantrum.

If you are looking for shrubs, go to Home Depot

Perhaps my absence from Home Depot since the age of 5 when I was thrown in the backseat by mommy and daddy was the issue here.

Chris and I made do, we picked up three small blueberry plants (3 for $12!) and named them each, claiming our own and creating a beautiful yet equally strange attachment to the small fruity wonder.

Lilacs that we put in our new gazebo (tent)

Chris bought a gazebo (otherwise known as an overpriced backyard tent) for his patio and we left Home Depot to spend the next 2 hours trying to assemble the damned thing. Our reward? Beer. My friend Sean and boyfriend tagged along for the planting ceremony, as well as Chris’ neighbor who most likely came outside due to our incessant knack for swearing loudly and, well, the huge tent that was now apart of the shared backyard.

We maneuvered around Chris’ backyard trying to find the optimal spot for our blueberry babies. We laughed over everything, broke the 88 cent tulle and laughed some more.

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Earth Day 2012 was Sunday, April 22nd. It rained and none of my friends were around. Did it matter? Of course not. After the shame of realizing that I had most likely looked unaware on every social media site was over, I found a bit of pride and accomplishment.

This may have been my first year really doing something active on (or around) Earth Day, but it hit me then that I loved getting my hands dirty; I loved smelling the trees, soaking in real, natural sunlight, staring up at the sky, making wishes on shooting stars.

I loved nature all of my life, but I was blinded by things, material things, and the unnecessary dramas of being young that make me feel today as if I had always taken it for granted. Perhaps it is just a part of growing up and realizing what is most important, and that is where we live; where you, me and future generations will all call home. Maybe my house does not have solar panels, and my car does not run on recycled grease, but I am happy with my small contribution.

My Earth Day was Friday, and it changed me for the long run.

Happy Earth Day, every day.
 

Chris (left) and Sean getting their hands and skinny-boy pants dirty