Late spring / early summer, the grass grows unruly and the first brilliant manes of dandelion heads are crouching through the green like great cats approaching prey. There is a strong sense of promise in the air, poised for the inexorable rush to renewal, little miracles all around converging on the great blossoming to come. I breathe deep, inhale the scent from clouds above to freshly tilled soil at my feet. And yet there is a small anomaly at the corner of my eye. Something that should not be.
There is a small, dark shadow in the yellow-dotted carpet of green. Then an imperceptible movement that draws my focus. An illusion. Nothing more. Just a gust of wind tossing shadows from cloud or leaf. Again, then again.
Before I take that first step I know what it is. My heart says go to it, but my head says walk away. These are choices I was not meant to make, too reminiscent of other choices and chances for good or ill. I say to myself “not again, please, not again,”. My children are all grown now so their pleas and tears are not there to force my hand. So tiny, so helpless, a young bird not yet fledged, either one hatched too late and nudged from the nest by nest-mates or one doomed by imperfections and beyond help or hope.
The good book enjoins us to care for the least among us. Five sparrows for a penny, yet each one is precious in someone’s eye. What am I to do? Search for the nest? Hasten its certain end? Or let nature being both cruel and kind, take its course? Nature red in tooth and claw will make swift work of this mewling swatch of bone and scant feathers.
There may yet be time this summer to fill the nest with another brood.
What to do? What to do?