After driving five hours each way to be with my Nana in Odessa on her 80th birthday this past weekend, I was glad to collapse in my living room chair on Sunday and just relax before it was time to get dinner started.
The kids were outside burning off energy after I’d tortured them in the car by taking away any and all screens for the drive, so I assumed I had at least 20 minutes to rest my eyes. But my lids weren’t even closed before my youngest burst through the front door carrying a tiny fluffy creature.
We named our daughter Violet, but I’m seriously considering changing it to Snow White. This kid has a wild magnetism to forest creatures. On Sunday, little Snow White came in with an injured cardinal just resting in her arms.
The bananas thing is that this isn’t even Violet’s first cardinal. When she was about 3 years old, a little juvenile cardinal hit our window, and she insisted on saving it. I don’t know if it’s because she was born in Indiana, but she just has a thing for cardinals.
After the huge thump all those years ago, I assumed the bird was dead. Violet ran out to check on it, and I told her not to touch it until Daddy got home to help bury it. But miracle of miracles, she peeked back in the house to say the little bird wasn’t dead at all.
I asked her where the bird was so I would know which part of the patio to avoid. But she rounded the corner and stood inches from my face with the little bird cradled in her tiny toddler hands. I think I blacked out for a second, but when I regained my composure I told her she needed to get the wee bird outside in case it regained its senses inside my house and started flying around. I wasn’t in the mood to have it knock into a window inside the house and be forced to deal with the body.
So, she took it outside and sat with it on her lap just talking and singing to it until finally the little cardinal regained its strength and started hopping around her skirt. Knowing that it had escaped death, I went and sat with my little Disney princess for a while watching this wild animal calmly hop around my daughter’s fingers.
After a few minutes I told her it was time to put the bird back in a tree. So she scooped it up and we walked it over to a skinny yaupon holly in the yard. She held the bird out on her palm to let it go, but the little thing was still just perched calmly on her hand.
She finally held it next to a branch and encouraged it to hop on. The bird took a reluctant step onto the tree branch and sat there only a second before flying up to the top of Violet’s tree house.
Seeing that its wings were working, we turned to go inside. Violet took one last look back to say goodbye. The little red and brown bird sat on the roof of the treehouse chirping happily. I swear that thing was singing a thank you song. Looking back I probably should have let Violet convince it to help me clean my house.
My girl felt so proud of herself for being a helper, and I told her that legend says cardinals are messengers for loved ones who have passed on. She took it as a message from her grandfather, my dad. ...
Now here I was again with a little rescue bird, but this one didn’t seem to be in very good shape. Her little beak was cracked, and she couldn’t walk or stand up. When my husband went to pick her up, she tried to fly, but she just tumbled to the ground. I had Violet sit with the bird until I called wildlife rescue.
I have the number to the rescue saved because we’re regulars. Maybe one day I’ll tell you about the baby squirrels that got me pulled over by the police. The rescue was closed for the day, but we could bring her in first thing in the morning. We made her a little box with a fluffy towel and just a little water. Violet helped me make a small rice sock to warm and keep next to her. But after a few hours it didn’t seem likely that she was going to make it through the night.
At one point Violet went to check on her, and she wasn’t moving. There were a lot of tears as we got ready for bed.
As I laid next to my little wildlife maiden, I heard her almost-silent prayers that the little bird be OK. I texted my husband to deal with the body in the morning so I wouldn’t have to.
On Monday morning we peeked into the room where we’d put the box, but the bird wasn’t in it. Instead, she was hopping around the floor, still hobbling, but alive.
Violet scooped her up and put her back in her little bird bed, and as soon as Snow White got her shoes on we drove our little messenger bird to the wildlife rescue.
I guess maybe those prayers found wings Sunday night after all.