This weekend Jim rescued a hummingbird that got stuck in our potting shed. It flew into an open door then couldn’t find its way out. Just as it seemed to be on the verge of exhaustion from flitting this way and that, bumping windows and ceiling, Jim caught the bird and set it free. Jim has a way with hummingbirds.
Up until starting this blog, I never realized how big a role animals play in our daily lives. We’re not the kind of people who I think of when I think about the term “animal lovers” — horse people or dog rescuers — yet we constantly interact with all manner of critters.
Now that we’re outdoors almost every day, we come across crawdads and fish in the ditches, mating mallards that frolick in the irrigated fields (we call one couple “The Ortegas”), and box turtles lumbering about.
I used to love animals as a child. I remember one time walking around the yard with my eyes trained on the grass, looking for any living creature. I came across a dead bird, featherless and scrawny, that had tumbled out of its nest in the sycamore tree. I picked up the bird, cried while I dug a little grave, cried while I lay the little body into the hole, cried as I piled the dirt back over it.
I can see that same, almost unbearable animal love inside my daughters. The way they cry at the cruelty that invariably crops up in nature programs on TV, or how when they’re outside playing they’ll stop in their tracks if they see a dead lizard. They crouch around the body, gently prod to see if they can revive the poor lifeless thing, then get to the work of burying.
Horses are tricky. They’re so big, and the relationship we humans have with them is really special. That point hit me on Sunday during a community horse show in which Dee and her horse participated.
Dooley is about the most gentle, “unflusterable” one-ton creature you can find. He even makes the hippophobic klutz (i.e., me) look good. Something about his sad eyes or the way he patiently lets Dee flop all over him — you can’t help but fall for him head over heels.
I watched his graceful giant body lope with my daughter poised just as gracefully atop his back. I truly hold these two, and especially Dee, in awe. A part of me wishes I could move like that, trust like that, have had that kind of mastery over something when I was that young.
One last tidbit from the weekend. On Saturday my parents had a garage sale. It’s an annual event where the whole neighborhood participates. Throngs of buyers come and walk from house to house looking for deals.
My sister and her friend brought the bulk of items to sell at Mom and Dad’s house. I rummaged through all my stuff and found exactly five things I wanted to get rid of: three pairs of shoes, a black purse, and a lamp. I laid out my five items among my sister’s and her friend’s goods, then set off to see what other neighbors had to offer. Right away I found a mid-century modern chair in chartreuse vinyl, perfect for sitting in a spot of sun and reading. I bought it.
My lamp sold immediately. One woman almost bought one pair of shoes but suddenly ran off to catch her infant son, who was about to walk into a low juniper bush. Three people examined the purse before placing it back with the other items.
At noon, we shut down. We piled everything that didn’t sell back into bags and prepared to haul them off to a neighbor who holds everything for a local charity. Em asked if she could have my black purse.
“Sure,” I told her.
Within minutes of taking possession, Em came running to me with five bills.
In her hand were two $100 American Express travelers cheques and three for $20. Two-hundred sixty dollars worth of travelers cheques that I had misplaced in 2003 after a trip to China and India. Back then I had looked everywhere for the darned things and concluded that they were gone for good. They were the kind that never expire.
Lucky weekend. Lucky, and blessed.