November 18, 2007
Friday around 2:30, I was trying to finish my day early, to get my weekend started maybe with a cold beer at my favorite bar and dinner made. It’s been a busy week in the vineyard, tying up little odds and ends like erosion control and cleaning up. I was getting time cards signed when one of the dudes brings to me a beautiful snowy egret with a badly broken wing.
I’m kind of a bird geek. Not super bad to the point of, you know, walking around with binoculars or whatever, but I paint pictures of birds sometimes, like the oil painting up top there, and have always found the snowy and the great white egrets to be maybe the most noble and beautiful wild creatures to look at. To see it injured but still alert and somewhat angry, to hold it in my hands and feel the soft feathers, I knew I had to do everything I could to help it.
So there I was, an angry snowy egret in my hands, my curious puppy getting a little to close to its dagger-like beak, a few guys laughing, wanting to wring its neck, and 411 on the phone, trying to find the wildlife rescue center. I transferred the egret to a 30-gallon bucket I’d been using to dynamize some compost, covered it with my jacket, and carried the dog and the bird to my truck and headed north to Santa Rosa.
There’s always heavy afternoon traffic, and the puppy kept sniffing at the bird, who was trying to get free. I looked over and the bird had poked its long neck out the bucket and was looking around, kind of confused. So I’ve got the puppy under one leg, the egret held at bay with my cowboy hat, the wildlife people trying to give me directions, and I’m on a busy 2 lane road getting lost.
When I got there, I heard what I’d feared, that the break was bad enough that they’d have to put him down. I was an hour from home, deflated and crashing from the adrenaline and the sun was setting. I still had to finish my timecards, feed my dog, and relax just a little bit after a long week working in the vineyards.