Thursday, March 13, 2008


Last night I dreamed that K and I were walking through a garden. It was lovely. When I went outside today, the sun was beaming and there was a sheer cool wind. I noticed the tops of the trees blowing as I drove down the highway. The ocean was etched with whitecaps. At the bird center, all was quiet when I arrived. The dogs were still inside. In the little weathered wood shed, which is sort of like a little bird hospital, there were two grebes. They make a noise that reminds me of the "beep-beep" the roadrunner makes. Also, there was a dead cormorant. Later, J told me that a couple from the university brought it in. They reported that boys -- not little boys, but college students -- were throwing rocks at it.

There are times when I am acutely aware of the potential for violence that young men possess. I live on the edge of Isla Vista, and on Friday nights when I ride my bike back from the beach and through the dusky neighborhood, I can't help but imagine the insides of the houses where all the windows are lined with bottles -- trophies of alcohol consumption. The smell of beer is thick, and in the yards, young boys without shorts catcall the ponytailed joggers and cyclists. I imagine these are the same boys who, at the end of the year, throw their sofas and trash in the ocean. These boys make me feel worried about sexual assault.

The cormorant was green and brown and iridescent. I touched the feathers before I went to the pond. I usually tend to the aviaries first, and today I seeded and watered all four stalls before beginning to wash the area down. I had the hose in my hand when I noticed, on the flagstone bordering the aviaries, four white doves. The door had been blown open by the wind. The aviary holds about twenty birds, so I was relieved that I only had to recover four. Two were easily herded back in, but I had to chase the other two. When I finally caught the last one, she cooed and cooed. I could feel the vibration in her chest -- the coos and the flicker of her heart -- in my hand. It was as though the sudden expanse of the outdoors had frightened her. I stroked her feathers and put her back inside.

Later, after almost all the chores were done, I noticed that the gray and white bunnies had wandered out of their enclosure. Their gate had blown open also. I dropped the fish I was carrying and hurried; an escaped rabbit is difficult to catch. I reached them quickly enough to herd them back into the pen. When I closed the gate, they sniffed it and pawed at the ground beneath it. Last year, one of J's bunnies escaped and became a "wild" bunny, but he still lived in the yard. J still fed him and occasionally we would catch sight of him in the bushes. But then a hawk tried to lift him out of the field adjacent to J's. The hawk dropped the bunny, and when the bunny fell he injured his spine. For two weeks, his neck was twisted and he barely moved. I thought he would have to euthanized. But he recovered. Now he lives in a hutch again, but he hops and nibbles and is safe from hawks.

1 comment:

K. Lorraine Graham said...

I love these posts connecting your dreams, the environment, and your interactions with birds and other animals.

I have some thoughts about the boys and the cormorant, but I'll have to collect them--that image brought back a variety of startling memories for me.

If you ever find yourself stroking a bird's feathers again, they often enjoy being stroked in the direction against their feathers--a little bit of gentle ruffling.

is this real?