Since Sunday, there’s been a quiet revolution at the Button Bungalow. We cleaned out our fridge and shelves, bought fresh mostly-clean food and two crates of water bottles (Steve refuses to drink the tap water…he’s lived in this city his entire life; maybe he knows something I don’t) — and since the sun hasn’t quit shining all week, we’ve been outside, cleaning up the trailer in preparation for camping and going on long walks.
It feels good. I’m going to be in a wedding for the first time at the end of the summer, and I want to look good too.
Yesterday, we drove down to Crescent Beach to walk along the ocean and attempt the 1000 Steps — which is exactly what it sounds like. A bunch of twisting stairs that start from the beach, going over some train tracks and winding through a hill that has absolutely no view or anything rewarding at the top, like an ice cream truck, for example. Just the self-satisfaction that you did it. (Also, we saw Mike Reno from Loverboy walking his dog, and heard a rumour of a nude guy making a presentation, but that’s another story for another time.)
We’ve done the 1000 steps once before, but this time, after watching a mother-daughter duo who’d committed to climbing it up and down five times, we decided to challenge ourselves to…twice. 4000 steps.
Needless to say, the legs are a little hurty today. But we figured that the only way to keep going was to keep going. So, another sunshiny day, another walk; just around the neighbourhood this time.
I forgot to wear my glasses, but Steve is always a faithful guide for bumps and dips that my clumsy self is bound to naturally locate. We found a concrete path between two houses, and something caught my eye.
A little black bird (raven? crow? I’m blind) dead on the ground.
I gasped, and Steve stopped. Taking a closer look at it, we determined that it was NOT dead, just laying there. Eyes blinking, mouth opening and closing occasionally, wings flat on the ground. My heart was pretty sure it was crying out for help in a language we couldn’t understand.
We couldn’t leave it there. But do we pick it up? Take it home? Did it have diseases? Would our cat disown us? We couldn’t just leave it.
Steve remembered that his mum and sister had found a baby bird in their yard a couple of years ago. He called them to ask if they had taken it anywhere.
Sister said that they had, but that we shouldn’t do anything because the bird shelter gets countless calls from people this time of year about the same thing: baby raven/crow/blackbirds helpless on the ground.
And what people don’t know is that this time of year, EVERY YEAR, they are kicked out of the nest by their parents, who will let them lay on the ground for days until they learn how to fly.
Sure enough, we looked up at the closest tree, and there was a big black bird sitting and cawing away.
I’m not savin’ them and you ain’t either! But if you touch my baby, I take your eye!
Uh why WOULDN’T this mama bird was a chain-smoking prison warden from the Bronx?
With great hesitation, we walked away. I hate it when I feel bad and good simultaneously.
It hit me that we had just witnessed a prime example of nature vs. nurture.
And it’s messed me up.
I assume crows, or whatever the hell these things were, have been around for a long time. They know what they’re doing. We call them the rats of the skies, yet we would have stepped in and saved that baby’s life if it needed done. It’s not in our nature to not want to nurture. But very much so, that little bird needs to learn how to fly, and we don’t have wings. Saving it would only hurt it in the long run.
It got us talking.
From the time I was 8, I’d been required to live life as a little adult. Childhood ended early for me as I struggled to keep my mom and myself safe from an unknown future in the wilderness.
Steve lived at home until he got married at 33, taking care of and being taken care of by his family. (Some might think that’s weird, but YOU try living in the Vancouver area by yourself and see how long you last.) His grandparents lived with his family once they couldn’t care for themselves any longer, until they passed away. A full house.
I am the prodigy of self-sufficiency, and he is the testament of “It Takes A Village.”
What will our children know?
Because it can’t always be about “Who are you gonna be?” or “What are you gonna do?” — when all the stuff of early parenting and passing milestones and getting “good grades” burns away, what do I want them to know at their core?
That they are capable of anything if they work hard and treat others with kindness and respect. That if they wait to take the leap until they’re ready, they’ll never jump. That wings only come after the cocoon of time and squeezing. That we will pour ourselves into them day in, day out until we work ourselves out of a job because, hey, they can fly on their own now.
“I want to encourage them to not be afraid to take adventures, see the world and change it for good, and for them to know that we’ll always be waiting for them if they need us.” I said to Steve.
He nodded and smiled. “And while you say that to the kids, I’ll be standing behind you, smiling and shaking my head and mouthing *Be afraid, be very afraid, stay here with us please* and then I’ll actually say, ‘If you go to Europe, remember I’m not Liam Neeson. I don’t have a special set of skills, so DON’T get kidnapped.”
Deep down, that’s probably why we chose and need each other. Opposite sides of the teeter totter. If we work together, the balance will come. The children will play. The Village will have a park.
And hopefully I won’t have to push anybody out of a tree.