I'll be featuring the winners of my latest giveaway in a few days, but for now, I wanted to share with you all a story about my weekend.
I had a really wonderful Father's Day. Dad came in from Jersey, and I took him and some of my family out to one of my favorite places in Brooklyn - Dao Palate (the yummiest vegan restaurant in my hood). After dining, we set out to peruse the local fair in Park Slope that filled the streets that day, and, despite the heat, we had a fun time looking at handmade necklaces, linens, photographs, and other items for sale.
As we were all crossing to head back to my step-mom's car, I noticed something in the middle of the street - a small pigeon, struggling to move, helpless against the cars coming her way. It didn't take me longer than a moment's time to run over to the bird, scoop her up in my arms, and bring her to the side of the street. It was clear that this poor bird was in shock - as she tried to flap out of my arms, my dad suggested I lay her down on the ground to see if she could fly. And fly she did - until her legs failed her, and she came crashing back down onto the ground. She didn't leave my arms after that.
We all loaded up into the car, the little pigeon carefully wrapped up in one of my husband's shirts. Steve loves to name animals - we are the proud caretakers of Rini and Guster, two of our three kitties, because of Steve's unique name-giving abilities - so it was no surprise that he didn't hesitate to name our suffering friend, whom he endearingly called Icarus (Icarus is the boy in Greek mythology who flew too closely to the sun, which melted his wings away.). Despite my protest that this pigeon was very much a girl (I didn't actually know for sure, but moments of panic do strange things to a person), we decided to keep the name Icarus. As I held little Icarus closely too me, I felt dread that we wouldn't arrive at my apartment in time, where I was planning to make a soft bed for her outside in the backyard. We had already exhausted the option of taking her to a vet - when Steve called the local animal hospital, we were sadly informed that Brooklyn does not care for its wounded or sick pigeons.
This isn't surprising to me. I think I am one of the rare people in Brooklyn who has an affinity for pigeons. I happen to also have a soft spot for rats (and even cockroaches, on my best of days - don't judge me!). Why? Because these are the beings that most people have no regard for. These are the beings most people walk hurriedly by as if they are an inconvenience, at best. These are the beings that should matter, but don't in the eyes of most people. Which, of course, makes me want to love them more.
A very friendly pigeon I secretly fed last month.
(In New York, there is a $1000 fine for feeding pigeons.)
On the day I chose to live vegan, I decided then and there to start living in the least cruel way I possibly could. I made a vow to start caring about where I was stepping (both literally and figuratively) in life, and more importantly, I decided that each step I'd take would be as careful and compassionate as possible. This includes making room for the occasional line of ants on the street, or allowing the spider in my bathroom to find its way into my tupperware jar, so that I can release it gently back outside. There also happens to be an all-inclusive "pigeon loving" policy in my new lifestyle.
Recently I discovered a beautiful documentary called "Pigeons in the City," which I highly recommend checking out. If for nothing else, watch this film to learn more about a bird who is often given little positive attention.
Icarus was not doing well - her little heart was beating right out of her chest as she lay in my arms while we drove quickly home. It was also becoming more and more evident how severe her injuries actually were. Through everything, what amazed me most was that this little pigeon let me carry her and hold her the entire ride to my apartment. Once we got inside, I walked quickly to my bedroom, and Steve helped me open the window to the backyard. I sat down, fluffed a spare blanket from our closet, and set it out for her. As I placed Icarus onto the blanket outside, something began to happen. Little Icarus began to shake uncontrollably, and, within seconds, her head sank down, and the life from her eyes left her. She was gone.
I spent the rest of the day guiltily backtracking my steps - Did I squeeze her too tightly when I held her? Why did I let her try to fly? Steve ultimately helped me to see that no matter what led Icarus to her end, I gave this little bird peace in her last few moments. I showed her love in a situation where many people would have chosen to ignore her. I cared.
So often in life, we busily and carelessly walk from one destination to the other, totally unaware of the world around us. I know I can be thoughtless during parts of my day, especially in the moments I'm least enjoying. But on Sunday, thankfully, I was paying attention. Because of Icarus, I will try to pay even more attention.
To learn more about the plight of our urban animal friends, please visit: www.urbanwildlifesociety.org.