Wednesday, August 25, 2010

One of My Many Stupid Moments

Have you ever had a "stupid moment"? You know what I'm talking of those times when you did something and then immediately after, you thought, I can't believe I just did that! If you haven't, congratulations. If you have, welcome to my world.

This summer, Tim discovered a nest in a dogwood tree in our front yard when he was trimming some branches from the tree. Upon discovering it, he got a ladder at my request so he could climb higher to see if there were any eggs in it. When he climbed the ladder, he didn't see any eggs. What he saw was 2 little baby robins! His face lit up when he discovered the babies. "There are little birds in here!" The little babies had probably been hatched for about 4 or 5 days when we discovered them. They were not attractive at all - no feathers, skin so thin you could see their organs, a little bit of fuzz on them, big heads, etc. They had the kind of face that only a mother could love at that point.

After climbing the ladder and taking some pictures of the newly found nest and its occupants, and after being fussed at tremendously by the parents, we left them alone so they could grow in peace...until the next day. From the day that Tim first discovered the nest and for the next 11 days, I would go outside to the dogwood tree with my ladder in one hand and camera in the other. I would place the 6 foot aluminum ladder as close to the nest as I could, then climb the ladder up 3 steps, hold the camera as high as I could and aim it toward the nest hoping to get some good pictures. I couldn't climb the ladder high enough to actually get above the nest, so I just had to "point and shoot" and hope for the best. It was such a joy to see their development from day to day through my camera's eye. On the 11th day the nest was getting very full and the babies no longer had faces only a mother could love. Those little "bird faces" were growing on me!

Let me back track just a bit.  When I would go out daily to check on the babies the parents would become quite upset with me and voice their displeasure!  They would squawk and fly in and out of the little dogwood tree letting me know that I was in their territory and that I was not welcome there! I tried to get in and out as quickly as possible but some days took longer than others.  On this day, the 11th day after finding the babies, I climbed the ladder to take the pictures and check on the babies.  The mama and dad seemed to be more agitated with me than normal but I continued on with my mission.  Camera...check, ladder... check, full steam ahead! I reached the 3rd step on the ladder, leaned in with camera in hand to get the perfect shot when all of the sudden, I felt something on my back! I reached behind with my hand and realized that one of those adult robins had left me a little present on my back! I could not believe it! What did he/she mean? I was a bird lover! I had worried and fretted over those little baby robins in that nest.  All I wanted was a few photographs and that thing pooped on me! So, here I am standing on a ladder with my head stuck up in this little tree when all of the sudden out of my mouth comes, in the kind of voice that I used to use to scold my kids, "You pooped on me!  You pooped on me!  Why did you poop on me?!" Then it hit me... I was shouting at a bird! I was fussing at a bird! What happened next was just the icing on the cake!

My shouting must have startled the babies, because not long after those words came out of my mouth, one of them fluttered out of the nest to the ground! He escaped! Oh no! I only thought the adult robins didn't like me before!  Now, they left no room for doubt! I had Bird War III on my hands.  Adult robins appeared out of nowhere! What was 2 quickly turned into 8 or 10! It wasn't exactly like the Alfred Hitchcock movie, The Birds but their goal was to make me sorry I had messed with them!

So, I think to myself...I'll just get it and put it back in the problem. Even if the birds dive-bomb me, it'll be okay. I climb down off the ladder and follow the hopping baby robin...and follow the hopping baby robin...and follow the hopping baby robin.  This went on for what seemed like forever.  Anytime I would get anywhere close to him, he would flutter and hop farther away from me, at one point, even going across the street into my neighbor's yard. At the same time that I'm following this baby, the adults want me out of not only that baby's life but their life and they are letting me know it. What am I gonna do?  Birds were going nuts...the baby robin was scared to death...and I felt horrible! I very well might be the cause of this baby meeting an early death! What to do...what to do...

For the next hour and fifteen minutes, I sat and watched and worried, feeling terribly guilty. I wondered how "the bird world" would handle the mess that this human had made. I would hear the mom chirping loudly to the little robin and the baby chirping back.  It was so pitiful to me.  I felt terrible! The little one finally found a resting place underneath the tree in which his momma was sitting.  She had been chirping so loudly to him for the last hour and 15 minutes trying to tell him where to go and where not to go.   It was sweet and sad at the same time.  I had read in some earlier research that I had done when Tim initially found the nest that the adult robins would do that...they would sit in a tree close to the nest when one got out of the nest, and chirp loudly, to make sure the baby knew the direction to go to get back home. But he couldn't fly and the nest was way too high for him to be able to hop back in!  What to do...what to do...

I stood it as long as I could.  The adult robins had little if any chance of  getting  him up in the nest on their own.  I just didn't see that happening and I was the reason he had gotten out of the nest so I had to brave the elements- the birds dive bombing me, the bird poop, the loud squawking - and get him back in that nest, plain and simple.

I put on some gloves and went over to the baby. He was exhausted by now and didn't put up much of a fight. I laid a butterfly net gently over the baby robin. When he was unable to hop away, I easily picked him up and took him back over to the nest.  After carefully climbing the ladder to the 3rd step for the last time, I laid him in the nest and breathed a huge sigh of relief that he was back safe in his home where he belonged. Whew! I'm not sure if that event was more traumatic for the birds or for me! What was even better was the fact that later on, I saw him sitting comfortably on one of the brances in the little tree.  He was safe. Both his bird world and my human world were at peace for now.

We all do stupid things sometimes.  We use poor judgement and don't think things through. I think that's part of being human.  Hopefully, those episodes diminish a bit with each passing decade. I'm not convinced that our lack of judgement is what we really need to focus on though. I have done some things over the years that could clearly be put in the category of  not using the good sense that God gave me! Those who know me well know how true that is!  I'm thankful though that God has blessed me with some years to grow a little bit and hopefully mature. It may just be that what we do after we do the stupid thing is what really matters. I've heard folks say when speaking of others, "They're just that way. or You'll have to overlook them". Do we excuse the messes that we make too easily?  Do we chalk it up to us or someone else just "being that way". Do we walk away from encounters, situations where we've clearly used poor judgement, where we've clearly messed up with no thought of how to correct it? It may not be possible to fix everything that we ever mess up on. Our human ability may place some limitations on what we are able to do. But I do know that it is not only possible but necessary for the child of God to develop the attitude that we're surely gonna go down trying... that not even an act of Congress could stop our trying to correct wrongs and mend fences.  I wish I had been better at that when I was younger but that was then. I can't turn back time. What I can do is look to the days ahead and be determined that those days will not only be in the past but will be a thing of the past. Sounds like a pretty good plan to me!

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