DEATH IN THE AFTERNOON

ROBIN 4 SMI have just done a terrible, stupid thing. I have killed Little Bobby. I saw the damned rat again a couple of hours ago, the massive rat I saw last week on the wall. I had cleaned the wall and moved the bird food to the feeders but I kept putting one dish of seed and meal worms in a flower pot for little Bobby as he couldn’t use the feeders. The pot was out in the drive and high enough I hoped that the rat wouldn’t go near it. But today I saw him, this bloody great rat, running from the pot and I knew I had to somehow kill it.ROBIN 2 SM

My landlord told me the cat had taken a bird in the last couple of days. I hoped it wasn’t a Robin. I had seen Bobby earlier looking a bit dishevelled. His partner who was more outgoing and often seen hopping around on the ground, was nowhere in sight. I thought about him alone again. Life for some seems to be all about having what little is given us consistently snatched away.

It was raining and getting late, there were no birds around. The concerns I had had about trapping Bobby, accidentally, receded. He had not been around for hours. I thought of him sitting silently in the hedge. There were no other birds around either. The rat and the cat, I thought, had scared them off. I put the trap on the pot half in a wooden box and loaded it with peanut butter.

When I came down an hour later the light was leeching from the sky and there was a shadow dangling from the pot. The rat, I thought but it was Little Bobby, his wee body still warm. It would’ve been fast, he would not have known anything.ROBIN 3 SM

Why did I not think?Why had all my previous concerns become so vague?Surely I should’ve guessed he would be making one more foray into the dusk.

I buried him under the wall beside the hedge he was born in last Summer, where he used to take his food and from where he would launch himself across to sit at my car window. He was not an average Robin. He was a little more tentative than most Robins, a late starter in the relationship stakes and, in his earlier months, given to bouts of contemplation. It will sound silly but I’ll miss him terribly.

ROBIN 1 SM

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17 responses to “DEATH IN THE AFTERNOON

  1. Before my cat was euthanized, I got him some tranquilizer pills to calm him down (he always knew when we were going to the vet). I had to fight to get the pills into his mouth but eventually I did. When I home, utterly desolate, I saw that he had gone off to a corner and spit out the pills. I can’t even begin to describe how horrible I felt. I wanted so desperately to make his death easier and I failed. I understand your grief and frustration.

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    • Oh thank you for sharing that Rachael. It is so hard to say goodbye to a pet anyway and when something like that happens it just too much…I feel like that now. Just desolate. Horrible. It nice to know someone is there…thank you.

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  2. Clare, I totally feel your pain and upset. There’s nothing I can say that will take it away bit I’m sure that little Bobby knew he was with a true friend who had his interests totally at heart and, for me, that’s something that is fundamentally important in this world.
    Hugs, j

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  3. So sad. So sorry. Once as a child I found an injured field mouse, brought it home and made it a bed in a box, gave it some bread and water. I was so happy when it survived the night. I brought a friend home from school to show her, opened the box – the mouse jumped out and I trod on it as it ran across the garage floor. I was disconsolate for days and I’ve never forgotten it…. Only a mouse – but life – I felt responsible. I once heard that if every robin survived to live its full life, we’d be knee deep in robins in 5 years – doesn’t help a bit, does it?

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    • Oh Chris thanks…you made me laugh at the end…and thank you for the mouse story. I can identify so much right now, such a mix of feelings. I ran over a Mexican Ground Squirrel in the States 9 years ago and watched it die because I didnt know how to put it out of its misery and that has stayed with me too. I even did a painting for it!These little creatures are so vulnerable we do feel responsible…but accidents happen. Hard though. I know this one will stay with me too.

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  4. I’m sorry for your loss, Clare. I say this, and it is in no way meant to be tongue in cheek or condescending. I would feel just as badly as you do in this situation. In fact, once when I was a child I was sitting outside reading a book. A tiny lizard must have mistaken me for something to hide under because when I stood up, I had crushed it. I honestly felt awful after that, and no one could understand why when I tried to tell them.

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    • Thank you Tony…and thanks for sharing the lizard story. I understand completely. Theres such a horrible feeling when hurt or kill some blameless creature who is totally within our power. Maybe it speaks to us of the arbitrariness of our own existence..or maybe it just makes us feel crap. We all seem to have these stories and I find them all so affecting. The author Tommy Ungerer tells of rescuing a duckling and putting it on the seat of his car and then forgetting about it when he put a box of books in, crushing it. I read that 30 years ago and it stuck in my mind since then. Anyway a horrible day has been made bearable by yours and other comments. Thank you so much.

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  5. Awe Clare that’s so sad, but nature is cruel sometimes regardless of how death happens – we had a stray dog ( a starving bitch who looked like she had pups a couple of months ago) came into our garden last week and killed (& took with her) our four lovely Hens.
    But life goes on, and am sure your garden will have a Robin back in it in no time at all!! Bobbys brother/sister will venture in just in time for nesting!

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    • Oh sure I know Mary K…its not so much the death but that it was caused by me for no good reason at all, that it was needless and that’s what makes me feel so awful. My stupidity. I should know better than a stray dog…but I don’t. Oh well, life goes on….but I don’t think I will be feeding the birds again. Still got ot get rid of the rat 🙂 Thanks x

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  6. Oh my heart, Clare! I know this was a couple years ago, but I wanted to chime in and say I hope you weren’t too hard on yourself. You had the best intentions, and I’m sure little Bobby understands you never meant for it to happen. *hugs*

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