Thursday, November 3, 2011

what do you do at 1 a.m.?

Talk about the dead bird in the freezer, of course.

Ok, let me explain. It's late. I can't sleep (thank you head cold) and I've been meaning to post this for quite some time.

I have a story to tell. About the dead bird in the freezer.

Rewind a few weeks. No. A month or so. Aaron and I pull into the carport like usual and I open my door to get out. I notice a small gray bird huddled against the wall. It seems scared, but doesn't try to run away. Aaron walks around to my side to see if it's hurt or something and as he gets close, it takes off for the bushes at the end of the driveway. Just as it gets out from under the carport, a hawk comes swooping out of the trees and tries to dive-bomb the poor little guy. Woah! I'd be hiding in the carport too!

Now, back a few weeks. Aaron and the girls go for a walk while I fix dinner. When they get home, Aaron says "Hey, remember our hawk?" (of course he has now become our hawk) "Somebody hit him. He's on the side of the road down by the Farmers." Sad. I'm wondering what happened to our awesome bird and I'm wondering if he pointed it out to the girls and how they reacted?

"Is it a mess?" I ask.
"No. It's beautiful."
Eliza pipes in. "Mom, I couldn't see its eyes though. Is it sleeping?"

My mind is racing. How sad. I want to see it. I've been wondering what kind of hawk it is. Should we leave it on the side of the road? Should we bury it in the backyard with the baby hummingbird that fell out of its nest? Wait. If it's beautiful and not all mangled, maybe we should take it to the life science museum at the college. Otherwise, it's just going to get run over by cars or torn up by dogs. Yes. That's what we should do. Take it to the museum. That means, it has to spend the night at our house.

After discussing our plan and trying to get some expert advice for how to take care of a specimen (with no luck because nobody answered the phones), we grabbed a box, some garbage bags for gloves, and all trooped down to "the bird." Then a really cool thing happened. It was a little eerie to touch the bird at first, but then it was amazing to see something so powerful up close. He was beautiful, and so strong looking. His head just looked...well...royal. His talons were scary! He wasn't huge, but still. I mean, really. Have you ever held a hawk in your hands? It was amazing to see it so up close and personal. Eliza started asking questions that led to conversations about why we should care and the life cycle and more. They wanted to "soft" him (pet him softly) - but only uber quick and with the tip of one finger. They liked looking at his beak and his claws and wished he would open his eyes. (I was a little afraid he would open them - right as I was placing him in the box!)

Then out of nowhere Eliza says "And Mom, when Jesus comes back, the bird will come with him, right?"

Yes, Eliza. When Jesus comes back, the bird will come with him. Along with Nora's balloons that floated up to Jesus when we lost them in the parking lot at the county fair.


We put the bird in the freezer for the night. (Which, it turns out was the right thing to do if you ever need to collect a specimen.) First thing the next morning, the girls and I took the bird (in a box and a plastic bag for those of you picturing me walking through the halls with a dead bird in my hand and two little girls at my heels) to the man at the museum. He was very appreciative and said it was a beautiful specimen and we did a good thing.
He said it was either a cooper's hawk or a prairie falcon.
We'll have to go back and find out the final verdict.
Nora made sure to tell the bird goodbye before we left and then we spent 45 minutes looking at all the other cool displays - including the saltwater fish tank - in the science building.
Honestly, it was one of the coolest experiences I've had as a mom.
And the other cool thing - every time we go past the place where they found the bird, Nora pipes up and says "Bird here. Bird sleeping. Oh, sad. Sad. Museum." and in her little 1-yr old way, tells the story of our bird all over again.
And Eliza?
Well, her brain keeps working on it too.
Every now and then I get questions like
"Mom, when old people die, do we put them in the freezer?"