Monday, August 10, 2009


Last Friday, I was walking down our staircase and glanced out to see the flowers in our courtyard, and the little fountain we have that bubbles away. The birds love the flowing water. It's their favorite source. And I love watching them.

I saw a finch who should have been either on high alert, like birds always are, or madly flapping away getting a wonderful bath. She was doing neither.

She was dead.

Somehow, she must have plowed into one of our windows (which they do all too often) and wound up smack in the top of this tiny fountain. It's no more than six inches in diameter. The little finch pretty much took up the entire space, and there was no way I wouldn't notice her body floating there.

I checked to make sure she was not alive (sometimes they're just stunned), then buried her in our berm. Truth be told, I'm kind of leery about burying too many more birds there. I'm always afraid I'll dig up an old friend. That just wouldn't be right. Makes me understand the concept of grave markers.

Also on Friday, the amazing writing instructor, Margie Lawson, announced that her cousin had just been diagnosed with ALS. Although he knew it was too late for him, he wanted to raise money to combat that horrible disease. Margie said that in order to help her cousin reach his $100,000 goal, she was offering that with any $50 donation, the person's name would go into a drawing for one of her big-time ($450) classes. Sounded good to me. But I didn't get around to it right away, and I think she had Sunday as the deadline.

I would LOVE to take Margie's class. Plus, I'm good at getting drawn to win something (knock wood). I figured it was almost a shoe-in for me to plunk down a charitable contribution, feel good about it, and win a coveted prize. Selfish? Probably.

(Bear with me. There's a connection.)

Saturday morning, my plans were to check overnight emails, write a couple of them, take an early shower and head off on my errands. We were having friends for dinner and I needed to get to the grocery store. And the liquor store for champagne. We make mimosas for our Sunday Brunch.

My work area is in the lower part of our walkout. There are French doors right by my desk, and when the weather is nice, they're open (as they are now). On Saturday morning, I'm writing an early email to my sister in Tucson, when out of the corner of my eye, a duck starts to walk into my house!

It was Deborah.

Ray and Deborah (a pair of mallards) come every spring to our yard, eat whole wheat bread, enjoy private duck baths (plant saucers) and proceed to make babies. Deborah has a favorite nesting place in our backyard, and we have duckling parades every May or June. I think of those few months as our time to host a B&B. For ducks.

Except this year. I lost my cool when I saw a fox belligerently standing over her nest. He'd eaten the eggs. It was sad, days later, to see Deborah sit and gaze at what had been her nest—and her babies—for hours at a time. I thought of her as sitting Shiva.

Ray and Deborah hung around a little longer than usual this year because they didn't have anything better to do. The No-Family thing.

But, they'd been gone for quite a while by Saturday. I jumped up, closed the door (duck poop is horrible to clean up, and I didn't want it on my carpet) and ran upstairs to get some bread and water for my visitor.

She had looked like she was panting. And I know now where the term "ruffled feathers" came from.

Back down with the bread and the water. Laid it outside for her to get to. She was ravenous. But she couldn't close her bill. The bread was a carrot that just kept dangling; the gold ring just out of her reach.

A few phone calls later, including one to the Audobon Society of Greater Denver, I reached Wild B.I.R.D. A rehab center. They told me how to capture Deborah and where to bring her.

My husband and I used an old flannel sheet for the capture (I felt horrible, but determined), and a Lladro box for transport. Driving Deborah to the center, it occurred to me that maybe I was suffocating her with the sheet, inside of the box, and the poor thing would wind up dead by the time I got her to her rescuers. Thank goodness it was just my normal worry gene that got kicked into high gear.

The first thing I saw when I got to Wild B.I.R.D. was a sign that said how badly they needed donations. That $30 would go a long way in helping them care for these wild birds people insisted on dropping off for them to fix.

We made it past the "West Nile" and "botulism" epidemic concerns. Turns out, Deborah had a fractured jaw. She most likely had been hit by a car. They were going to reset her jaw and tube-feed her in the interim.

I happily wrote them a check for the $50 I was going to selfishly contribute earlier to a cause, that although just, would have been a donation made by me with an expectation of personal gain.

I plan on picking Deborah up in about three weeks, bringing her to her own backyard, and releasing her to the wild. I just hope Raymond is alive and hasn't given up hope.

It's been a really tough year for Deborah, but her timing worked. I buried a finch on Friday, didn't get around to making a planned (if selfish) donation, saved a duck on Saturday and had the funds available to make a difference.

And yeah, that's Deborah with her babies from last year in the picture.

CR: Love & Respect by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs.

It's all better with friends.


  1. I don't think that sounds selfish at all, Peg. I think it sounds like your heart is so big it's breaking for the pain that sometimes stabs the world. When it does, we might as well write. We NEED to write. If someone can give us some insights into how, all the better. Ducks who lost their children. A random flight mistake. One of the cruelest killers of all. I'm saddened, too. Better write.

  2. That's such a wonderful story, Peg. Thank you for sharing. God does work in mysterious ways, doesn't He? He was preparing you for that moment, and you didn't eve know it. Praise the Lord!

  3. What a lovely story - in God all things make sense, eventually. And hopefully Deborah will have more ducklings too.