Monday, May 2, 2011

Dead Terrorist, Dead Bird

I'm relieved that bin Laden is dead. We're safer in our part of the world. The international implications are still to be sorted out, but we've got a handle on ourselves. We can breathe a little easier.

It reminds me of the scene in From Russia with Love after Kerim Bey (Pedro Armendariz) kills Krilencu, the gunman that has tried to kill him, with one shot. He says to Bond, "That pays many debts." Obviously those two shots fired into bin Laden's head don't bring our fallen citizens and heroes back, but there can be a little relief within that terrible insanity wrought by those terrible men.

I don't feel like I'm making a whole lot of sense right now. Maybe first because it's 10:30 and I'm tired, but I still need to write. But most definitely because of what I saw on the gravel floor of our patio today.

Our dogs use the patio to do their business. Since there's dirt underneath, the first order of business is absorbed. The second order requires me to pick it up every few days. I didn't until yesterday and it was nearly its own field. I'm not waiting that long again.

But today, before I rolled the garbage and recycling bins to the curb, I decided to check the patio and pick up any new droppings.

I walked to the back end of the patio, and I saw a three-abreast stream of ants all over the body of a dead bird. A small bird. I don't know what kind it was. It might have been a sparrow because it was small enough. But how did it get there? Even though Tigger, our part miniature pinscher, part Italian greyhound, has the instincts for going after small animals, seeing how he plays so furiously with his toy squirrel, it wasn't him. Every morning, we hear a hawk or two in the trees nearby. Could it be that the hawk had grabbed onto this bird, done what was desired, and then dropped it on our patio? There have been instances when it has flown low enough for that.

I went back inside, taking two cans of Raid bug spray out of the cabinet below the sink. One was nearly empty, so I had to have the second. I also grabbed two plastic bags.

Back at the bird's body, I sprayed all over it and above and below it to quell the ants. Then after I sprayed enough, I fitted one plastic bag over my hand, tightened it, and then put the other over my hand, too, giving me a double shield. The most I could do for this bird was take it by the leg, hope that it didn't come off, and fling it over the right side of our patio, to hit the grass over there. It's all that could be done, and so I did.

Before that, I thought about this bird and that huge historical event. I thought about that huge crowd near the North Gate of the White House, letting those flags flutter, chanting "USA! USA!" and singing the national anthem, and here I was, looking down at this bird. Personal reflection doesn't happen often in this valley, or at least not often until you encounter this kind of situation and then you're flooded with it. In this valley, you just live. You go through day after day after day and do whatever you need to do and you move on just like that.

I thought about where the bird might have come from, what it was doing. It had to be local, since I doubt the hawk would fly all the way from Newhall to drop the body off here. I thought to myself, "All the excitement in the world today and here's this small moment, unassuming, and no one but me will ever know." Well, you know now, too, and that's fine, but I was just amazed yet again at the individual moments in the world, when we're just us, and the world is just as vast as it can get, and it comes to us in the smallest ways to remind us of what is also available here and how fragile it is.

I thought about that bird for the rest of the day. I still am. I heard more small birds chirping around the neighborhood a while after that, and I had the feeling that maybe those birds knew this one and were looking for it. I hate that, but you can't tell nature to be kind. It happens. That's just the way it is. Some things will never change.