Wednesday, January 27, 2021

The Kid

I watched through the drizzle as the small herd edged closer to our bird feeders and to Mary’s beloved forsythia. They’re a bold bunch here, not terribly afraid of my shouting or waving, but wary enough to walk away should I physically infringe too far into their personal deer space. Already low on sunflower and with the forsythia’s early blooms looking tasty, I resigned myself to another soggy intercession and reached for my muck boots.
 
But before I could slide into the galoshes, the herd, as one, lifted their heads and peered into the woods just outside of my view, around the corner of the house. There was no tension in their posture, as might be caused by a coyote or stray dog, but, instead, a wary interest. I, too, paused to see what played out. But several minutes passed with the herd’s distraction unwavering, so, tired of waiting, I walked through the house to an east-facing window to see what was holding their attention. It was The Kid.
 
I’ve spotted The Kid a handful of times as he’s limped through the woods, his malformed right foreleg hanging loosely as he forages. He’s a young spike buck with either a birth defect or an early injury that’s arrested his peg’s development, leaving it several inches shorter than its counterpart and with questionable sturdiness. I’ve seen him attempt to use it for support but once, while bending low to root in the leaves for food, and it wasn’t pretty.
 
As he approached, the herd (a collection of does and yearlings) began to move slowly away, in time with his awkward advance. They wanted nothing to do with him. As to whether their rejection was due to his gender or his disability, I cannot say, but I anthropomorphized it as both. He’s always alone.
 
I love observing the wildlife here, but it’s the unfortunates that really take my heart. Last summer it was a house finch whose limited flight was painful to watch, day in and day out. Like The Kid, the bird was perpetually shunned. I think that’s what affects me most deeply here of late. More than their imperfection, their isolation. Life’s hard enough when one can’t fly well or is hobbled profoundly, but to be left an outlier for it is cruel and beyond my understanding. It’s one of nature’s brutal truths, I can’t deny, survival of the fittest, but it’s difficult to swallow. I feel their loneliness.  
 
As the herd melted back into the woods and The Kid continued towards the house, I slid the muck boots back under the desk. I wouldn’t be chasing him away as I would have the others, even if he eyed the forsythia. And after some thought I stood by the window, quietly, where he could see me, hoping he might get used to my presence; that he might have some company, odd as that seems. At my appearance he paused and considered my intrusion for a moment, then resumed his clumsy march to the feeders, scattering the mourning doves as he arrived. 
 
 

9 comments:

M.Salomone said...

Yep, good stuff.
Thanks. Hope you will be filling the Gone fishing blog with more.
stay strong.

Anonymous said...

Such a tender story and we can relate to his isolation more this year than ever before. Keep writing, Mike.
Live Free ...

Ofieldstream said...

Yet, how can we resist well written prose with a 'kid' taking lead in the role as protagonist. Well done, Gipper.

Ofieldstream said...

Yet, how can we resist well-written prose with a 'kid' taking lead in the role of the protagonist? Well done, Gipper.

Ross Brecke said...

You've got a kind heart, Mike. That story made tears well up at the end. I look forward to more of your writing.
Thanks

Ken Gortowski said...

Had a one legged duck show up at our feeders last year. He was a fighter and didn't let his disability stop him. He would hop the 500 feet from the river along with the normal handful of waddlers. If a squirrel refused to get out of his way at the feeder, he just pecked it in the head till it cooperated. If I see anything with disabilities show up, I make sure there's food around to make it easier on them. Least I can do...

Mike Sepelak said...

Thanks, Michael. We'll see. Stay strong your own self.

The Kid's definitely the protagonist here, Arthur. Ya just gotta root for him.

I'm just an old softie, Ross, as it appears you are too. Thanks for the kind words.

Love the duck story, Ken! Tough old bird, quite literally. I'm trying to decide just how I can help The Kid. Or even if I should. I'd be happy if he stayed close. Hope you are doing well. IT's been a while. ;-)

Feather Chucker said...

Glad to see you writing again. Great post!

Michael Agneta said...

I hope to read more about The Kid in the future. Your wonderful profile has me invested.