Wednesday, September 9, 2009

a paper heart painting and a pigeon

"Desire is the daughter of invention (my heart is made of paper)"
acrylic on masonite, 8x10"
One of my new paintings featured in The Foxtrot Code, a piece on making peace with your own delicate heart. Not even delicate in the sense of being easily broken, but rather delicate in that you take the weight of the world on your shoulders (think May in The Secret Life of Bees).
Today, I found this pigeon in front of a popular Harvard Square bookstore. Pigeons nest on the tops of their very tall outdoor display cases, and this pigeon seemed to have fallen. He couldn't fly and was looking for comfort in his reflection, which he thought was another pigeon. I called Cambridge animal control, thinking he was sick, but when the woman arrived she said he was a large baby pigeon who hadn't learned how to fly yet, and he wasn't eating the bread I was trying to feed him (given to me by a very sweet girl) because he was used to being fed by his mother. She told me the best thing to do was leave him there.
This may make me sound crazy, but I spent the next four hours with this pigeon. He was so helpless and scared, I couldn't bear to leave him alone. He kept crying. I would sit with him and pet him, and then go far away for blocks of time to see if his mother or father would fly down in an attempt to get him, but they never did. It was also difficult because it's a very busy area, with lots of people traffic.
I was desperate for ideas. I went inside and spoke to someone who worked at the bookstore. As chance would have it, a girl who worked there was known for saving birds. She told me the parents might have kicked him out of the nest, and that maybe I should put him in a box and take him to the local park.
I grappled with this idea for about an hour. I called my mom several times. I called the Boston Animal Rescue League to see what they thought I should do. Eventually, it seemed that everyone thought it was best that I leave him there, which broke my heart.
It was starting to get dark at this point (and oddly cold), and my little pigeon was closing his eyes and beginning to fall asleep. (I even saw him yawn a couple of times, which I did not know birds could do! It was so cute.) I made him a "nest" out of a cardboard box and news papers, and left him with the remainder of the bread. I called my mom to tell her I was finally leaving the pigeon, and it made me start to cry. I couldn't believe that in all that time I hadn't been able to do anything that would secure the safety of the pigeon.
I think I take on too much sometimes, but even though it doesn't always work out, I'd rather do all I can and have it work out a good handful of the times that I try. I suppose my pigeon was a good lesson in learning I can't save everything, and to let some things rest in fate's hands.
So I came home, and I'm feeling a little better now, although I keep wondering about the pigeon. I am sure he'll be fine through the night, though, and I believe if you send out good thoughts that good things will happen, so I am sending good thoughts to my pigeon.


LandGirlontheHomeFront said...

what a scenario! i think you did the right thing, though. The animal world is even more ruthless than the human one (though sometimes I think the opposite is true) and since he wasn't sick but instead still a baby, I think you did the right thing by getting him out of the comfort zone so he can learn the crucial skills for survival as an adult. Hmm...I imagine that's what human parents experience on an even grander scale. Sometimes letting go is the highest act of kindness.

Touching story...

A Painted Journey said...

You do so many good and kind things for creatures who can't speak for themselves, honey. I'm so proud of you. I will join you in sending good thoughts and love to the baby pigeon... Love, Mumsy xo xo xo

WoolenSails said...

Love your new piece and the meaning. I finally got to see the movie and loved it. You are worse than me, when it comes to saving animals. It is natures way of keeping the flocks down so the others can survive;)


ETCIllustration said...

Matt and I were walking in the South End when we came across a squirrel on the sidewalk. He had stopped to breathe after darting across the street. Nothing seemed physically wrong with him (i.e. he didn't appear injured), but he was breathing heavily and no longer moving. His eyes were wide open. I went up to him, expecting him to run from me (especially since he was a thin squirrel, so he hadn't been fattened up by humans and perhaps wasn't comfortable with us), but he stayed perfectly still, save for his panting. I even touched his tail, and still he wouldn't move. I was so worried, I didn't know what to do, but Matt convinced me that the best thing would be to leave him alone. Eventually, we wandered back down that street and the little guy was gone. I hope that he just needed to catch his breath and that he scampered away like a normal, healthy squirrel.

I guess I wanted to share that because--while I didn't go through the lengths you did to help a little creature--I understand the bit of anguish you went through to leave your pigeon by himself.

Kirsty said...

Awh the pigeon is sooo cute! This story was really very heart warming. You are such a kind person Amanda! :)I'm sure your little pigeon friend is fine and you did the right thing! :)

Guess what?!

Your picture arrived today! I was so happy to see it sticking out of my mail box! :)
Thank you for the little note and stickers as well it was so thoughtful of you! :) I love getting lovely little letters like that! :)

Love Kirsty x

genevieve a.k.a. the bandit said...

things like this happen to me all the time! i'm constantly finding abandoned/lost baby birds, which is so strange
a few years back a abay bird was on our doorstep, so we took it inside and put it in a box because it wouldn't fly away. we brought it back outside after a while and waiting watching from the doorstep; it's mother flew right down to it and made it fly away!

really cool :) and thanks for the post, i am really glad that i'm not so far away, especially since i was planning on going to school 5 hours from my home!

ps your artwork is beautiful, i wish i could paint at all!

Amanda Atkins said...

Thank you for the very sweet comments and for sharing your stories, everyone. They made me feel better, and it's so nice to know that a lot of you do the same kinds of things. :)

Aya Smith said...

You are amazing ! ^_^ What a lovely story...

Amanda Atkins said...

Thank you, Aya :)

REread said...

that was such a sweet little post, the poor little pigeon, I know how you felt I sat with a lost dog on the side of the road for about an hour the other day (was late for work after!) .. i didn't know what to do with the little fellow, i called the RSPCA and they said as he wasn't injured they couldn't come get him ? how dumb is that ... in the end i had to leave him too as didn't know what else to do!

Olivia said...

I love that you are compassionate and have a kind heart. You took the advise of other kind people, though well intended don't know pigeons.
There is no way the baby would survive without human intervention. Although at that age they look adult, they have no idea how to eat on their own.
Humans interfer with nature all the time for the benifit of mankind. In this situation, interfering would have been of benifit to this poor little Pigeon.
Honest, I'm not saying this to make you feel bad but so that next time you will listen to your heart.