Miscellaneous Mum - Trying to find the objective correlative, everyday
The weather is warming up, and as I was feeling temporarily inspired and hopeful, after coming home from standing in line with other people as we exercised our democratic right to vote, I decided to get into our vegetable garden on Saturday to do some well needed weeding and tidying up.
As you can see, I had quite a job ahead of me. What you can’t see are three dead birds.
They have been there for months. Back in April, when the weather was turning for the worse, and there was enough scrappy leftovers from the summer harvest to prove tempting, at dusk one evening we heard a tremendous commotion coming from inside the cage. Five birds had jumped through the lattice that you see on the fence, but forgot to exit the same way. Flying up, hitting the mesh, they became panicked and it was that screeching distress that brought me outside, barefoot, to lift up the roof so they could escape, which they did.
Two did, anyway. And because it was dark and cold and nothing else was coming out, I went back inside thinking everything was over.
Days later, I came outside to the cage again to see three dead birds on the ground, having died either of stress or injury (or both).
What did I do? Did I get a shovel and give them a ceremonial burial? Or put them in the green waste bin? Anything?
Nothing. I left them there.
Cowardice, I suppose.
Naturally, in the months that have passed, I’ve wondered about my decision; the implications (would they be a feast for rodents?) and how that reflects on me (‘lazy’ comes to mind). Perhaps it was being confronted by death, but I’ve scooped up a rat before from the same place, so I don’t think it was that. Maybe it was everything.
And I knew I’ve have to deal with them eventually.
Pulling out the huge clumps of clover and other weeds, in my head, I was readying myself for what I might find. I knew two were right next to the fence (to the rear of what you see in that picture), but I couldn’t remember where the third one was, and as I was talking to Keira, who was sitting on the steps, chattering about where she she wants to go to high school and all those no, no, I don’t really want to be talking about this yet, but okay, let’s do it conversations, I brushed back some leaves, and there were bones, from the wings, arranged in impossible delicacy, hidden from view from the sun, and a tiny skull, fragile, with minuscule eye sockets.
I stared at it, and left it be, and kept pulling the weeds. I didn’t mention the bird to Keira while she was there, and again I’m not sure why.
And then she left, my bin was full to the brim, and I left too. I will finish once the bin has been emptied.
The Labor party had a death of its own on the weekend, losing the election. The kids were Rudd fans (“Oh, Kevin” they would say, with casualness, like he is a doddery neighbour), and certainly not for Abbott – not that it mattered, he steamed home. I went to bed on Saturday knowing I would wake up with a new, undesired (at least as far as I’m concerned) prime minister and, but I woke up thinking about those birds, worrying, wondering.
I hope Abbott treats us with more honour than what I paid them.
I guess that’s what I’m trying to say.
Karen Andrews is the creator of Miscellaneous Mum. This is one of the most established and well-respected parenting blogs in the country and is a two-time finalist in the Best Australian Blogs competition. She is also an author, award-winning writer, poet, editor and publisher at Miscellaneous Press. Is an exercise junkie (when she finds the time).
Shortly after moving down to Hobart, I found a tiny bird’s body in our backyard. It was lying next to the veggie patch the previous occupants had created, and seems it was as confused about the mesh as your birds were.
It was so fragile, and it seemed, peaceful. I stared at it for about half an hour, and then every time I hung out the washing, I would spend more time with it. I never buried it – just watched as it’s body slowly decomposed under the feathers.
One day I went out with the washing and it’s little body was gone – likely picked up by recent winds, maybe a cat thinking it had hit the jackpot.
I felt awful for not having buried it — protected it after it’s death to make up for it’s lack of protection while alive.
I still look for it’s body every time I’m in the backyard, even though it would just be fragments, now. There is peace in death perhaps, but not always dignity.
Next time don’t stand in line, vote early!!
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