Wednesday, June 15, 2011

....Only when I laugh

Life hurts. So do accidents.

Monday morning, just as I was getting ready to dry my hair and get to work, the phone rang. On the other end was Brenna, my oldest daughter who still lives in town. Surprisingly the was calmly telling me that she'd been in a serious car accident. Leaving my hair to dry in the wind and clothed myself and hopped in my car to rescue my baby.

There wasn't much I could do. She was standing at the scene trying to gather her wits. Her car was totaled. The other car that t-boned her only lost the license plate.

Due to the accident up the road a few blocks, two of three lanes of traffic had come to a stand still. The drivers in those two lanes waved her across. Cautiously she inched her way across the road, looking for any cars coming up that third lane, a turn lane. When she didn't see anything she went all the way and bam! The driver admitted that he wasn't looking at traffic cause he was watching the police lights up ahead.

When the dust and car parts settle it's Brenna's fault. She's got insurance but the final settlement is yet to be determined. My heart aches for her and the loss of her first safe, new car.

Her body is sore and she is under treatment of a chiropractor. Both her neck and hip is aching....but she says they only hurt when she laughs, or cries.

Accident number two came when one of the fledgling red tail hawks miscalculated and more than likely crash landed, injuring one of its legs.

I discovered this incident on Facebook when I saw someone had posted a news story complete with video of the police officer that found and rescued the young bird from Oak and Broadway. The poor thing was so scared it didn't even bother trying to fly away and easily walked into a large box for transportation to the Dove Lewis Animal Hospital. I am sure that the young bird of prey is now in the hands of the Audubon Society. Whether it will be released back into the wild is yet to be determined.

One of the teens had injured its leg prior to the three leaving the nest this past week. Everyone following the raptor cam was concerned about it. How would the leg injury affect his fledgling activities? Days prior to his leaving the nest the leg seemed to mend and allow him to fly away with his siblings.

However, all of the birds were now out of our sight. Unless we were physically downtown Portland we would not know what the birds were up to. Local folks posted updates on Facebook, but none of us had any control or would be able to assist the juveniles in any way.

Thankfully, the bird rescue was recorded by the local news station, KGW, and we were able to see for ourselves that the bird was injured, same leg as the one injured in the nest. (Today the Audubon Society messaged me that the bird is okay and being watched by their expert staff at the rehabilitation center.)

It's hard for people to watch real life unfold before their eyes. There are no guarantees that these birds will survive beyond their first year of life. In fact, it is almost a miracle that the three hawks survived till now! Death or severe injury could have befallen them prior to their leaving the nest and certainly is a great possibility from here on out.

We cannot keep these birds from harm.

I cannot keep my kids from harm...unless I plan to keep them in a bubble for the rest of their lives, which would be completely miserable.

To live in this world we must accept that bad things happen. That is a part of life. Keeping the bad things at bay is not living. Some of life's most exciting adventures come to us when situations run amuck. :)

The pain and agony of defeat comes with thrill and adventure....if you choose to look at it that way.

Learning also happens. I bet Brenna will NEVER cross a road in that same manner again.

And there are funny memories of this incident for Brenna. Certainly not then, maybe not now... but soon. I did get after Officer J. Fair! He kept doggin' Brenna to get a tow truck to get her car out of the way. The 3rd time I told him to back off. Yes I did.

We will also remember the 'dude' that hit her. What a gem. He admitted he wasn't paying attention to the road. And yet it is Brenna's fault. A lesson to learn.

Pain, heartache and disappointment hurt. But only when I laugh.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Fly Away

When my children were small I pretty much lived in the moment. Together we made it through one day after another doing the things that families should do when their children are young. Watching the kids play, dance, sing and quarrel with one another, teaching them how to play, work and love. Through each phase of development I embraced the moment and enjoyed them right where they were. Many of these moments are recorded on video. I am so thankful that we have "Kalie can't dance" forever etched on DVD along with many hours of music, song, dance and just plain silliness.

Not once do I remember thinking about how my life would change when my children 'flew the coop.' Thinking about having an empty nest was not something that occurred to me when my children were young. It's not like I wanted them to always be with me but I just never imagined my life without them living in my home with me.

This spring some of my time has been consumed with watching two eagle nests and one red-tail hawk nest. The red-tail hawks nest has been the most rewarding because I have been actively watching since the eggs were laid. Also, since the nest is located in Portland, last weekend Wade and I went searching for the nest. A well placed camera angle gave me a clue to its whereabouts when a local business appeared on my computer screen.

From the moment the first chick hatched the drama of life and death has played out for anyone interested to see. This is 'reality T.V. at its finest! :)

The mother hawk laid four eggs. Each day through the cold early spring I watched mom and dad take turns keeping those eggs warm. Then as predicted by the Audubon Society moderator of the site, the female began turning her eggs in preparation for hatching.

During the nesting period plastic bags would appear in the nest. Their presence really bothered some people but there was nothing we could do. Speculation arose as to weather it blew up there (15 stories? not likely) or did the parents bring it to the nest?

The first chick hatched a few days before the other two. (The fourth egg never did hatch and would become a marker for us to compare the growth of the chicks.)

That first chick was strong and confident.

Once the three chicks had all hatched that plastic bag was used by the mother to protect the two small chicks from their oldest sibling. He was a mean and vicious creature! About day 5 after they hatched every time the mother got up that oldest chick would peck the young two siblings. It was so violent I couldn't watch! Others on the site felt the same way.

But then one afternoon I watched the mother get up off the chicks and she pulled that plastic bag over the two smaller chicks. The oldest sibling looked for his prey but they were not to be found. They were safely hidden from view. Momma to the rescue!!! Soon, the violence stopped and the chicks all got a long fine.

Several times each day food was brought into the nest. Most of the time the carcass was still and death had taken place in the air or at the time of the attack. Once I saw slight movement on a rat that was brought. The diet of the city birds was mostly pigeons and rats. The chicks all ate with great enthusiasm, each taking turns as the mother or father ripped small pieces of flesh to feed their young.

At first the three chicks stayed smack dead center in the nest. They didn't venture far from the safety they knew from birth. But soon, one by one, they began to wander out towards the edge of the nest, but well away from the edge of the railed staircase. Our moderator assured those who were fearful of their falling out of the nest that although it could happen, it was very unlikely.

In the same way it was exciting to see how the parents taught them to rip their food apart. As the blood feathers appeared and the white downy feathers gave way to the brown fledgling feathers, the parents would bring their meals to them and leave it in the nest. Gradually the parents had been weaning them from being fed by the parents and the chicks were expected to eat the meat themselves. It started gradually: First the parents would feed half the rat and then leave the remaining carcass for the chicks to figure out what to do. As you might imagine it was the oldest who showed the way for its younger siblings.

Eventually the chicks, starting with the oldest, began to practice flapping their wings. One by one they worked to stretch their wings in preparation for the day that we all know would come. Even though there was a bitter-sweet acknowledgement of the facts, I encouraged them when I saw them flap their wings. I cheered them on and felt a sense of pride for them.

Life in the nest atop the 15 story building must have been grand. But as all children must (or should) do, the day was approaching when one day it would be time to venture out on their own. I knew that one day I would log onto that web cam and the chicks would be gone. That day has come.

Yesterday I logged onto the site and the two younger chicks had left the nest area. Their older (and meaner) sibling has been absent from camera view for 4 days. If we were to go to Portland today we would likely find them in nearby trees or buildings, but they are no longer confined to the nest...their wings have strengthened and they have the freedom to fly wherever they care to go.

For a time they will follow mom and dad around and at least once a day ask them for food. For a awhile the parents will oblige. However at some point mom and dad will stop feeding them and force the 'teens' to start hunting the plentiful bounty of food on their own. And they will.

That's the way it is with human children. For a time we do everything for them. And then seemingly one day they want to fly by themselves. (Or drive in a car with a boy.) :)

I always have the memories of the past to warm my heart, and videos to remind me when my mind fails me. The best part of my parenting life now is watching them live the lives we tried to prepare them for. Tears of pride well when I hear stories of their lives now, whether they are delivering babies or teaching young men to live independently or flying (alone) to New York or participating in jury duty.

Although they are not all living in the nest, I don't have to look very far to see them flying around the trees and buildings, living and loving as I hoped they would.