Wordsanctuary Revisited

Musings of a writer-teacher-counselor.

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Location: Cleveland, Ohio, United States

I am inquisitive and have worked in writing, editing, and teaching. I am a citizen of the USA and also concerned about the world. This is an addendum to my original blog, Wordsanctuary. That's at www.wordsanctuary.blogspot.com Please check out my column at www.insidehighered.com, "A Kinder Campus." Click on Career Advice to find it. Thanks for stopping by.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Return to the Wild

Getting the simple postcard in the mail made my day. It was from the Kevin P. Clinton Wildlife Center, part of the Penitentiary Glen Reservation in Kirtland, Ohio.

“Dear Friend:

This . . . is to inform you that the American Robin brought in for rehabilitation has been released. The time taken to bring this animal to the Wildlife Center was the first step to its return to the wild. . . .”

This was certainly not the first time I had seen an injured bird, but it is the first time that my emergency action led to its actual rehabilitation.

Trying to save a tiny, injured creature--to some--might seem insignificant in the grand scheme. Some reading this might accuse me of being sentimental. Or wasting time. Or even upsetting nature's balance. Survival of the fittest, the biggest, the least injured -- that's the way of the world, right? And don't birds carry West Nile?

But this could happen to any of us. A sudden jolt of fate. A wind too fierce for our structures. And those we rely on can't help. Then what...

A fledgling was stranded in my driveway after very heavy winds. It chirped. And chirped. One would have to be tone-deaf not to hear “help me” in the call.

Just one bird.

Maybe it's because I sometimes feel helpless to push for change on a grand scale that the little details matter to me. I avoid stepping on ants. Even if they make their way to the kitchen, they are airlifted out. I once attempted an all-holistic mouse catching campaign. If you want to chuckle (or get shivers), click on "A House Mouse Speaks."

That day, two onlookers, whom I took to be the robin's parents, chattered at me from the power lines above. Other birds seemed to also be witnessing my deliberation. They seemed to wait expectantly.

As I walked close to it, this hungry fledgling opened its gaping, golden, trusting mouth. This was an action that I felt showed not mere instinct but, rather, its will to live. Further incentive for me to do something.

I lined a small box with soft towels, put holes in the top, and called the Wildlife Center. I was told they had room. I prepared for the delicate “pick up” and then transported “Robin” safely there. A broken wing was diagnosed.

I was told that if it was set and began to heal, the bird would not be euthanized. They would give it about five days to see if the bird had the strength to go on.

And as I headed back home, I thought about birds that hadn’t made it. As a camp counselor many years ago, precious “Tweety,” a house sparrow, died despite the ministrations of my first grade campers and me. I had hoped to impart to my campers the joy of helping to heal. Instead, we learned to grieve together.

Several years ago, my son awakened me when a thrush lay knocked out on our air conditioner; it had flown into the picture window. “Do something, Mom. Do something,” he urged. I did not want to fail then. It was the week that a beloved student had died and I thought: “Now this.” An omen.

But then, with the wonder of the internet, I became familiar with the Wildlife Center at Penitentiary Glen and called. I was informed of a watch-and-wait protocol for birds knocked out by dives into windows. I was given instructions on how to transport that thrush if it did not regain consciousness or mobility.

That time, the thrush recovered on its own – amazing to behold – and offered an unbidden message of hope to me while grieving my student's death.

This past week of Mother’s Day, I stalled calling back to find out how my robin was doing. I finally mustered the courage and was relieved to learn that Robin had a chance, and had—in fact—“just been fed along with a lot of the other birds.”

That appetite.

The skilled hands of the wildlife care specialists impress me. They know how much to intervene, and they have the wisdom to watch and wait. They also know, I suspect, that we are not only stewards of nature. We are interconnected.

If my American robin made it, that would be one more song in the world. One more splash of color. And even, a continued lineage of that particular creature's DNA. Who knows who that bird might grow up to be?

Will it remember the trauma and the mercy: thrown out of the nest by the wind…laying flat and helpless on a bumpy driveway … approached by a foreign creature on two clunky legs … transported by that alien in a noisy vehicle on four wheels?

A second chance at life in a wildlife center.

Reborn free.

May this robin--and all those tossed by rough winds—somehow find their way.


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