Posts Tagged ‘dead or injured wildlife’

rapid cycling of thoughts.

30 December 2010

after we reached the end of our trip down the rio toro, the rafting guide told us that we had a situation. he explained how people abandon their pets when they no longer want them, before leading us up an embankment where there was a cat with its head sticking out of a bag of rice. another cat — emaciated, fur matted with rain and dirt — lay dead in the grass beside it.

we gathered around an overturned kayak, eating pieces of pineapple and yucca chips, while someone cut the cat free and washed it in the river as it shook and whined. wrapped in a towel, we fed it crumbled bits of coconut cookies. it couldn’t support its own weight.

we drove to town for lunch, the cat in the front seat of the van, nestled in the floorboards. we drove to town to put the cat down as humanely as possible.

i don’t know why i’m telling you this. i don’t know what motivated me to continue through this story, rather than talking about the whitewater rafting experience itself. i could have written about how the guide initially told me my strokes were lazy, and the irony of that statement when, upon viewing the pictures taken while we paddled, we noticed the girl behind me staring directly at the camera in each photograph and even flashing the peace sign in one. i could have told you that i became completely soaked, my shoes, formerly caked with mud from a hike on a muddy trail near an active volcano, now pristine. i could have just said that it wasn’t worth the money and left it at that (though then everyone would think of me as a curmudgeon that cannot be satisfied, instead of someone whose idea of adventure is skewed).

i’m sorry that my thoughts tend to go in these directions and that i become fixated on the details of an event outside the event, that i remember the way a dying cat was carefully bathed along the banks of a raging river rather than presenting a travel guide so that you know what places to visit and what tour companies to use. again, i am seeing how strangers come together to support each other at times of crisis, but, yeah, i could have achieved those ends by detailing how we synchronized our oars to navigate without capsizing.

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the widow maker.

1 November 2010

i found a black widow spider, circled below in red, inside an old grill.

i attempted to capture it in an empty apple juice bottle, and resettling it elsewhere, as i didn’t believe trespassing on abandoned territory was punishable by death. also, i hoped it could teach me something about grief. with gloved hands, i picked up a long stick to guide it towards its new home, but it was too quick. i slowly removed the grate and pieces of charcoal so i could view its hiding places.

few things are more invigorating than tracking something using insufficient weaponry. it would only take a couple quick movements on its part or a couple blinks of the eye on my end, to allow it the opportunity to knock me onto the grass where i would convulse and foam until death permitted me solace. for a brief time i felt like a fencer, parrying and riposting, performing balestras and fleches across the field, fighting with the grim reaper.

i thought about life and death, about how close they are, and about how we take things for granted, because you never know when you’re going to have to remove something as dangerous as a black widow from your backyard. later i read that the mortality rate from the spider’s bite if not treated with anti-venom, which i would have likely avoided, was around one percent, so all of my ideas about heroism, the flash of the sword, and impending doom, were false, as it would no doubt take a better war to kill a college man like me. the red hourglass on its abdomen, i learned, was less a symbol of the sands of time quickly slipping through our hands and, instead, more like the end of a game of boggle.

needless to say the spider passed away after i accidentally broke off one of its legs. in addition, there was still a bit of juice in the container, so as it labored, pulling itself across its prison’s floor in a horrifyingly depressing display, it drowned.

the next day i returned to the spot to say a few words of condolence. before me was a web with a hastily scrawled message, woven with seemingly-benign pink thread, evidence both that the spider has a sense of humor and that it mocks our feeble attempts at superiority.

the decline of the american empire.

22 September 2010

decorum dictates that i update you about the house next door since it’s been almost two years since i’ve written about it.

both parents moved out (he took their younger son to his partner’s pad; she moved in with her new boyfriend), leaving the house to the older son and society’s rejects. more cars appeared at night, more kids stood on the front lawn during the day, and i continued to avoid them while simultaneously hoping they would talk to me.

soon after, the house was raided, the officials leaving a list of things that had to be completed to bring the place up to code. for a few days, the kids loaded a pick-up truck with garbage bags, before retreating to the roof of the shed to smoke. one night, as i stood outside, hiding myself behind the garbage can, i watched a car slow down and then stop as it was passing the house. the older son and a friend approached through the shadows towards the front door. another car stopped before continuing its route when the older son chased after it with a baseball bat.

apparently their efforts at renovating weren’t sufficient, as a large lock appeared on the door one day. they returned once to carry off the trampoline, presumably the only item necessary for starting their new civilization. the police who visited the property advised us to call if we witnessed anything suspicious. they brought us inside to view a museum of trash and damaged furniture. the carpets were stained. clothing burst from the closet like a glutton who had eaten too much. the smell was overpowering, like a roomful of corpses that had vomited themselves to death after eating a roomful of corpses.

boards were placed over the front bedroom window and a blue tarp over most of the roof to prevent further leaking. i took a bird bath and feeder from their back yard, gifts for my dad; he took one of those gazing balls for his garden. i offered the grill to my friends but it was too rusty to be of any use. when i went to check on its condition, i found a bong sitting on its side shelf.

everything i’ve described above has taken place over the last three months. a few days ago, i discovered that the back door to the garage is unlocked, so maybe there’s a part three to this story.

animal identification team.

18 May 2009

so, yeah, there is some kind of dead animal there, maybe an armadillo, anyway, who cares what it is. this declaration, delivered abruptly and dispassionately, was an attempt to leaven the enthusiasm i displayed while telling the story, but, of course, her interest was further piqued. she answered, you have to go back — and i’m coming with you.

we drove together as the events i had just finished describing to her repeated in my head. namely, while knocking on the front door loudly i was startled by movement behind and above me. wrens had built a nest in the porch’s overhang, and the mother bird had moved swiftly to an adjacent tree to chastise me. next her young tumbled to the ground near my feet and tried to hide itself, awkwardly fluttering into the patchy bushes that lined the house.

i weighed that which had transpired, determining that i was responsible for the baby bird. after all, it was forced into this world, before it was prepared, due to my error. however, before i could act as a surrogate — teaching it how to fly, passing nourishment from my beak to its darting tongue, keeping it warm when the temperature dropped — i had to find it. on hand and knees i pulled back tiny branches to get a glimpse within and beneath. i combed the area gingerly, nothing escaping my sight, until something stopped me and i jumped to my feet. just beyond where i was patting the ground sat a large oval mass of fur.

it was too large to be a rat; it’s posture was inconsistent with a sleeping cat curled into a ball. my best guess was that it was a furry armadillo. i was convinced that it had consumed the bird i was charged with protecting, which left me reeling with paroxysms of sadness broken only when my friend arrived home. she suggested that we follow the protocol pertaining to these situations. that is, we poke the unknown creature (she had summarily struck down my armadillo-judgment) with a stick. she, being braver than me, leaned toward the dead animal, nudging it. she jumped back, insisting that the carcass released a foul odor, and i was inclined to believe her as my own sense of smell is not well developed. we parted, she going to work and i to lunch, hoping that the scent wouldn’t linger and, moreover, something larger would carry the source away.

on the return trip, i was scared. not only had i failed at mothering a bird but i had further alienated myself from the spirit world by disrupting one’s final resting place. at this point, i thought, i may as well build a house on an indian burial ground. i imagined an eagle pecking out my liver for all of eternity. on the other hand, i had gone this far, so, upon arrival, i grabbed a stick and walked with purpose, hand covering my nose, toward the spot. i prodded the animal, finding it tougher than expected, as if it were in the process of turning to stone from the inside.

as my courage peaked, i noticed something peculiar and threw the stick aside. i gasped, reaching to grasp the object and retrieve it. the peculiarity i had spotted was a small white tag attached to the leg of a stuffed hedgehog, muddy and water-logged.

i sent my friend a text telling her i’d gone back to her house to find that the animal was a large hedgehog. i told her i had set it on her porch for her. for the next few hours i received messages berating my actions. of course i’m angry; you left a corpse on my steps. why can’t you call someone to pick it up?

later she phoned from home to call me a fucking asshole. she had approached cautiously and then laughed while again wedging the stuffed animal between the house and bushes where it belonged.


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