As a young girl my moral compass had a sworn personal duty to help every manner of wildlife in trouble, be it frog, snake or bird. I can not control it, my heart and soul are simply wired that way. I recall with great pride vividly arguing with Mrs. Wright my schoolbus driver when I was in grade 5 that I should be permitted, no, I was entitled to bring the crow I had just rescued from the muck of a ditch on the schoolbus to take to school. The crow, wrapped in my fall jacket was intent on the sandwich I was feeding it, while I was completely bewildered that Mrs. Wright refused our entry onto the bus. She sent me home to my mother then carried on to the next stop leaving a slipstream of dust in her wake.
I grew up reading Farley Mowat, Lynn Hancock and Dorothy Wisbeski. I read Okee the Otter so many times that the book just simply fell apart. It wasn’t until I had a credit card and E-Bay was in it’s early stages that I finally was able to replace my copy. As I got older I discovered Carson, Beston, and Thoreau and their tomes made their way to my bookshelves. Their timeless tales of every day life mixed with wildlife cast a hook in my heart that still pulls today. I see the face of God in the critters that roam the earth, swim the seas and soar the skies.
Birds just float my boat. So wonderful that with just a few steps and a flutter of wings they can take to the skies and just soar. Could there be anything more wonderful than soaring on air currents for the sake of soaring? Is there a child among us who hasn’t dreamed, of catching a seagull on the beach? It’s been on my bucket list since childhood. Oh I know they can be a nuisance, but to me they are beautiful. I love them.
We had to clear out of the house early today. Chris had an important phone call with big-wigs from the office and noise was not permitted. Matt and I finished up his homework early. At 10:00 a.m., the girls still weren’t out of bed. The angst emmanating from Chris each time Matt yelled and the dog barked was palpable. They yell and bark a lot. We packed up and headed for Mooney’s Bay on our bikes. Homework was done for the week and no disagreements about homework in general had Matt and I in terrific moods. We arrived without incident and began to walk the beach, make sand castles and get our feet wet. Great fun!
While poking about in the wrack line, Matt was chattering in my ear, “Hey mommy I touched a bird!” It took a moment to register and I replied, “That’s nice honey.” Matt scampered off to pull more muck out of the river to add to his castle. Matt returned, “Mom, look at that bird, it is kinda weird looking.” This time I paid attention. Sure enough a ring billed gull was sitting in the sand, not facing the wind. No shore bird I know of does that. All shorebirds face the wind. “Matt is this the bird you touched?” He beamed, “Yes, wanna see me do it again?”.
After ten minutes of following the gull who walked away from us, it was clear something was wrong so I took off my sweatshirt and caught the gull. Yes, it was a God moment and I was a little girl on the beach who caught the gull. I had a higher purpose in mind, I imagined the Great Gull in the sky was smiling kindly upon us. We attracted attention, two pre-teens and their grandfather were watching intently. Other families moved away as the scene developed. The older of the two pre-teens called out, “Whatcha gonna do with that bird?” Her sister, brave after the older one spoke up, “How’d you do that and how’d ya know it was sick?” I explained to the grandfather that no healthy bird would ever let a human touch it or get close.” I also explained that there is a Wild Bird Care Centre located at 734 Moodie Dr where people can take injured and helpless birds to get veterinary help. There is no cost but donations are appreciated. The explanation was satisfactory and it was clear the tweens wanted to touch the bird, but the fear of co-vid helped us all keep our distance. We went our separate ways.
I wasn’t sure how I was going to get all of us home in one piece. Breathless and frustrated because Matt was all hands and deaky with a sole goal in mind to touch the bird while I had the bikes, bird and knapsack. I decided to call my wingman Sarah who unbeknownst to me had me on speaker phone. “I need help, I need you to come to Mooney’s Bay!” Chris overheard all of this and thought I was in real trouble got off the phone and started a rapid fire question round.” When Sarah finally got a word in edgewise, she calmly told him “She has a seagull, Matt and two bikes.” Befuddled, he said “She has a seagull? A seagull? Of all the ****, she has a seagull?” Sarah replied, “Yes, dad and she needs us to pick her up in the car.” It was a lot to take in, “Your mom wants us to pick her up, to bring a seagull in the car?”
They picked me up. Sarah and Matt rode home on the bicycles. By the time we arrived home, I was emotionally attached to Bucky. Basil, our little bird dog was mortally offended when he was not permitted introduce himself to the new visitor and barked his head off while shredding my leg. The rukus was enough to rouse Emily from the depths of the basement, eyes wide she took one look at Bucky and said “Holy Snap you have a seagull!!”, grabbed the dog and went to the pool area. Bucky was calm through it all, his little birdy eyes focussed only on Matt’s hand and fingers. Still a fighter he pecked and jabbed every time Matt’s fingers came too close. After Chris put his car in the garage it was unanimously decided that Matt was no longer grounded from Minecraft. Chris parked Matt in front of Minecraft while Sarah and I packed up to get Bucky some help. Sarah was emotionally attached the minute I passed Bucky to her to hold and stroke in the car while we drove out to the Bird Care Centre to deliver him into hands who could care for him better than we.
With Bucky in good and caring hands we had to try to let Chris get back to work. I did feel badly about disrupting Chris’ morning, but not too bad because he now has a bird/family pandemic story to tell, something he can laugh about with his team. Working moms and dads who are fortunate enough to work from home have to have some degree of laissez faire in this very unusual predicament we all find ourselves. Stuff happens, birds happen, kids make noise and life carries on. That said, we cleared out of the house for the rest of the afternoon in search sparsely populated areas with which to spread out, discover and roam.