Feathers to feathers, air to air

I’ve had a very strange morning. It didn’t start out very strange. Well, that’s not entirely true. For one, I slept less than my boyfriend, and got up BEFORE my room-mate! Both of these things are very uncommon for me. To explain why I got up so early, I need to back up a little.

Of late, I’ve started getting aches and pains and a bunch of disturbingly crackling and popping noises in my knees, hip, back, shoulders and neck. It got worse with time so I went to the doctor. The doctor sadly didn’t say that all I need is good love, instead she claimed that if I simply started exercising more all of these problems would go away. Apparently if you experience joint-problems, running, biking and swimming is going to help, because the more stress you put on them, the better. Oh the logic. Anyway, even though I’m not entirely convinced the exercise will solve all these problems, I figured it also wouldn’t really hurt. (I wasn’t entirely correct there either, since my knees feel a little worse for the wear now, but according to the good doctor I should be getting better so I’m going to keep doing this for a while.)

So I got a membership card that covers all of the public swimming-pools in the Stockholm area, a swimsuit that doesn’t look completely indecent and went on my merry way to become healthier. I signed up three days ago and I’ve swum every day since. I love swimming, the water is calming, the motion is tiring but also relaxing and there is just something so tranquil and euphoric about floating, half weightless, in those blue waters. All I really need now is to find a time when the pool isn’t teeming with people. I’d prefer a bit more privacy and a bit more space to swim around in.

That’s why I went this morning. Saturdays they have an hour and a half, women only. So I figured that a) there would be less people there (I was wrong) and b) at least someone wouldn’t be gawking at me as I was trying to fix my joint-problem. 7:30 sharp I dragged myself hastily out of bed, had a quick shower, a bowl of yoghurt with honey and a glass of orange-juice. I checked my mail, glanced over the facebook updates and headed out the door. I was a little behind schedule, and in my hurry I almost missed it.

One step ahead of me up the sets of stairs between our apartment buildings and the little pathway leading down to the subway there was a bird. A tiny bird, lying perfectly still on the step, almost invisible in its grey and brown against the stone of the steps. I froze. The bird didn’t move, but its eyes appeared to narrow just a little. I thought for a moment. What to do? The bird might already be dead, but if it wasn’t, could I save it? I was running late for my swim. I stuck the cigarette in my mouth and walked past the bird. I stopped five steps later, cursing under my breath. I have this problem where if there is someone in need, human or animal of other kind, or even a half-dying plant, I need to help them to the best of my abilities. I couldn’t just let the bird lie there if it could still be saved.

So back to the apartment I ran, found a plastic bottle-cap and filled it with liquid honey and lukewarm water, got some breadcrumbs from the cupboard above the fridge and then headed back out, carefully and slowly so as not to spill any of the honey-water. In my head the little bird first stared at the cap to determine whether I was trying to poison it or not, then drank from it, slowly regaining health and strength until it’d fly away. I reached the steps. My little feathered protegé was lying in an awkward position, head against the ground, and I just knew. In the three or so minutes it had taken me to get the water and bread from my place and return, the little fellow had died. I was devastated, and a little grossed out. In one last, futile attempt, I put the cap down next to its head and spread the crumbs around it. I knew the bird was dead but if there was any hope, I wasn’t going to take my chances.

I went swimming and on my return the little one was still lying there. Confused as to what to do I tried calling the sup, but it being a Saturday he was of course not in his office. I then called my boyfriend, despairing over what to do. I knew I should really put it in a plastic bag and just dispose of it in the trash but I really didn’t want the little guy to go that way. No-one should ever have to be put in the trash. So after some mental dialogue, I threaded some bags over my hand and dug out a big bird-feather that Selon had dragged home one day on one of his little adventures. Back at the steps for the fourth time today, I looked, and the bird wasn’t lying next to the cap anymore. For a second, I thought someone had moved it, maybe buried it as I intended to, but then I saw him lying to the side of the steps. Like someone had just kicked him out of the way.

I gingerly picked him up with my makeshift lab-gloves and carried him off to some secluded location. I was amazed at how very light he was. I grew up on a farm so on occasion I’ve had to move dead mice from the traps, and they are heavy buggers, but this little bird weighed next to nothing, and it made me even more sad somehow. After a few minutes of walking, I saw a rocky elevation in the forest next to the road. What better place to bury a bird than high up? I climbed it, drenching my flats in the process, and put the little one down on a tuft of grass in the middle of the rise. Then I placed the big bird-feather over him. “I hope you had a good life” I told him, looking at the tiny eye, still wondering if it was going to come back to life at any minute, and then walked off.

It’s strange how something so very random, something that should be of no concern to us, can move us so very deeply, and make such a strong impression. I felt horrible over that second where I almost walked away without even trying to save this little bird, and then I went out of my way to make sure it would have the best bird-funeral in history. If it wasn’t for my joints I’d never have gone to the doctor, and then in turn I would probably not have picked up swimming, and if I hadn’t I would not have stepped outside today, or if I had, maybe at a later time, when I would not have seen the little brown and grey feather-ball against the brown leaves and slush next to the steps where someone kicked it out of the way. So the little bird is gone, but his presence did not go unnoticed, for in his memory lie some breadcrumbs on the stone-steps, next to a bubble-gum pink bottle-cap filled with honey-water.

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4 thoughts on “Feathers to feathers, air to air

  1. Of course you couldn’t simply walk past it. This is just one example of the way you try to change everything around you for the better. Don’t worry about the outcome, you can’t save everything and everyone, and I hope that wasn’t the same bird that Saga brought in last night.

    I beat you on the sleep thing today though. None at all!! Yay! I have a reputation to uphold y’know!

  2. This is a heart warming tale, even in its sadness. I commend your effort to save the little bird and the wonderful end you gave it. I don’t think everyone has the innate sense not only to help life but also to utterly respect it, even in its smallest form. It’s damn refreshing to see other people do it. Even though I don’t know anything about you outside of this blog, the fact that you live in Sweden makes me believe that you’re probably (or hopefully?) not the only Swede with a natural sense of the “old ways” so to speak. The old folk culture and lore is something I love to study. Freyr is surely smiling at you. In the speak of the elders, hail to you and good thoughts!

    1. Well, do I am more of an agnostic than a practitioner of the old ways, I do somehow believe that what I put out there will somehow affect what I get back 🙂 Though I was very into the Norse mythology when I was younger, I found the Greek and Chinese more fascinating. But thank you 🙂

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