31
Aug
10

vigil

Last evening we had a tremendous storm while Dave and I were driving to visit a friend. I didn’t enjoy the visit, though, because I was preoccupied the whole time by the thought that I had left my windows open before leaving home in the late afternoon. I was disappointed to cut the visit short because we were visiting someone I’d really like to get to know. I was honored to have been invited into his home.

Yet I only had myself to blame. Even though the sun was shining and the day was hot, I had not been observant and seen the great banks of clouds building on the horizon; otherwise I might have thought “just in case” and closed those damned windows. I should have remembered that the flies were biting.

The storm intensified as we returned closer to home. Our headlights barely pierced the dark and downpour. Water was sheeting across the road and broad ribbons of lightning briefly illuminated the mountains. As we began climbing the rocky road that approaches our house, I was thankful that so much of our road traverses bare rock. There was no chance of becoming stuck in one of the mud patches which suddenly appear in so many roads in weather like this.

But I couldn’t get my mind off of those damned open windows. I imagined blowing rain drenching my papers and computer and causing untold other damage. When we pulled into the driveway I could see the wind had blown open our front door. This didn’t look good.

I walked in the door and switched on the light expecting to see everything drenched in water, but the room was exactly as I’d left it. I walked over to one of the open windows, brushed my hand across the window sill, and it was dry!

“Dave, it’s a miracle,” I shouted. The wind had come from the west. It had blown through the open door and out the windows which face the east. The open door had been protected by roof expanse all around. Not a drop of water had gotten in.

It was a happy night as Dave and I made pork sandwiches and made a deal about a small propane oven and cooktop I’m going to install as part of a galley kitchenette for the existing house. Otto crunched contentedly all night on a shoulder bone that had come out of the pork roast. Sadie was probably comfortably ensconced in one of Alana’s easy chairs.

But as I discovered this morning, not everybody at Estrella Vista was happy. When I entered the end of the chicken coop that houses our chicks, I could see two of the smaller ones cowering in the corner while the others were gathering around the food. When I approached them to investigate, I could see that they were standing on a third chick that had literally been trampled into the ground.

There must have been a great panic here at the height of the storm, and this poor chick had the misfortune to be at the bottom of the pile. I lifted her pathetic body out of the corner and was surprised to feel her quaver in my hands. She was still alive!

Even though she was covered with mud and droppings, I could see this was one of the three white chicks in our flock of browns. After spotting the other two whites, I deduced that this is the one I have taken to calling “Blago” on account of a puffy tuft of feathers on her head that made her look just like (I swear to god) Rod Blagojevich.

So here was poor trampled Blago, all covered in shit and stinking and shaking in my hand. I held her close to my body hoping to transfer some warmth. Warmth. Yes, that is what she needed.

I brought Blago into the house, put her in a soft nest made from a t-shirt, and placed her in the sun. The pecking order of the coop was cruel to her last night and she was now nearly dead. I am curious whether human benevolence might bring her back.

As the sunlight moves across the floor, I keep repositioning the chair on which her nest is perched. Once she complained, which I took as a sign of fighting spirit. A fly landed on her tattered wing and she flinched it off. Alert and still fighting. This is good.

So today I am keeping a vigil for poor Blago. I’m beginning to think that just maybe she will not die. She has just raised her head and opened her eyes. There is a slim chance. Only time and the day will tell.

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