Nature’s way

Sometimes nature works in the smallest ways to remind you that life is not always easy, and sometimes life is cruelly brief.

My kids came inside after a long Father’s Day wanting to show me some “weird” thing twitching in the neighbor’s driveway. I thought, “What, a rabid squirrel?” My wife got anxious, as she does with annoying regularity, and my older one, Matt, said, “It’s not that big.”

And it wasn’t. It was a newly hatched baby bird, scarcely an inch long — probably a robin if the nearby nest with some light blue eggs still intact was any indicator.

The apparently abandoned robin's nest, two days later

It was already dark and we scanned the ground with flashlights. The chick struggled, looking naked and helpless, peeping pitifully and raising its little open beak in hopes of a tasty grub from mama bird.

But mama bird was nowhere to be seen. Papa bird flew the coop.

The nest appeared to be deserted, and I wondered if one of the neighboring cats – probably the same one that craps in my yard, grrrrrrr – had gotten to the nest and chased off or killed mama robin. The nest was only about three feet off the ground in a bush. Not much protection from a felonious feline with murder on its little cat mind.

Soon there was a small gathering of my wife and two kids and a neighbor kid, wondering what there was to do for the baby, which I’m guessing was probably only hours old.

Nothing, I said. “It’s doomed.” I was tempted to put it out of its misery with a quick stomp, but that just seemed like heaping cruelty upon cruelty. The ants were already moving in on another hatchling, already dead, a few feet closer to the nest.

“That’s sad,” one of the kids said.

That comment kind of stayed with me. Even in an age where kids spend hours gleefully blasting each other to blood-spattered  smithereens in video games, they still are touched by life and real death like that.

But that’s life.

Whether it’s an oil-soaked pelican on the Gulf Coast or a helpless robin hatchling hurled to the pavement by an unknown marauder in Northeast Ohio, life continues to struggle and for the most part life somehow goes on in spite of the obstacles.

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