Tuesday, August 17, 2010

In Memoriam

Saturday I was sitting outside with friends when I noticed him – a perfectly round robin … just a youngster, with telltale freckles across his chest. I pointed him out to my brother because the bird just sat there, on the edge of the garden. We moved. He didn’t. We walked back to check the raspberries’ progress. He still didn’t move even though we were only inches away.

Our attention turned to other things (like my opening presents!) and the three of us forgot about him. Later, I looked out my back window, just checking. The fat little bird was on the lawn, pulling up a worm I think. I didn’t see him that night.

Sunday, I was showing my giant dahlias to a friend and there he was again. This time he was on the cement sort of patio. Not as many worms there. We tried to scare him back onto the lawn but he didn’t go. Instead, he seemed to follow us. Little hops toward my friend, then little hops toward me.  Protestations to the effect that neither of us was his mother did not faze him. His focus remained on one pair of feet, then the other. We tried to lead him onto the grass but, I guess, it was too far away. My friend had to leave. I had chores to do. For a while the robin was forgotten.

Around 6 p.m. one of my (indoor) cats, Guinness, demanded his dinner so I came downstairs to fix it. While waiting to be served, Guinness looked out the back window and froze. Every fiber of his feline being was focused on something outside. I guessed it was the robin. I was right. Guinness barely touched his dinner then returned to the window, intent.

It occurred to me that his pose would make a good picture. I almost got my camera but was distracted by indoor cat number two, Herbie. His dinner. My dinner. Dishes. The evening slipped away.

The next morning a quick scan of the backyard revealed nothing in particular. It wasn’t until I went outside that I saw the scramble of feathers on the concrete. The flies around the feathers and a smear of brown, the little white spots that dotted the patio seemed clear. The robin had been eaten.

As I hosed everything down, I thought of a million what ifs – what if I had lifted him onto the lawn, or into the tree or something. Even taken a picture. But I had done none of those and now there is nothing to mark the little robin’s existence -- our momentary, tangential connection.

Nothing except a little essay on my blog.


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