I saved some pigeons from an almost certain death yesterday. I throw some bird seed out on and behind my balcony so as to feed the wee beasties and birdies of the forest. The squirrels, chipmunks, juncos (who I think are gone for the summer now), chickadees, steller’s jays, and occasional acorn woodpecker are most appreciative. Occasionally I’ll turn and see a larger bird, a band tailed pigeon, surveying the scene from a branch. These are very wary birds, and rarely alone.
I turned and looked out yesterday and noticed a whole crowd of these birds, which are larger than the city pigeons most people know, and so take up a lot of space. They were busy pecking at some seed, excited to find such a bounty. I would guess there were about ten or twelve gathered close together.
I watched them for a couple of minutes, letting my mind wander as I watched them hustle about on the ground. Then I saw a face staring at them from the stairs about ten feet away, watching them through a gap of two closely spaced trees. A coyote had snuck behind the woodpile and was stalking these birds as I watched. He took some small steps down the stairs and began to inch closer. For a second I thought myself in a live nature program, with the harsh rule to never get involved always enforced. My nature program doesn’t have such a rule, and while I respect the coyote for his business and liveliehood, I saw no reason to passively assist.
I banged on my window, the pigeons erupted in flight to all directions, the coyote stopped, stood up straight, and pondered his misfortune. I watched him turn around, go behind the woodpile, saunter besides my parked truck. Then I stepped outside. The coyote turned and looked at me, knowing me for the cause of its misfortune. Accusation was in its eyes.
“Sorry,” I said, not really meaning it.
The coyote turned and trotted up the small hill, stopping to stare at me once again when it reached the top.
“No hunting allowed here, Mr. Coyote,” I said, taking a stab at the proper honorific.
For a moment I considered that a coyote hunting in the afternoon was possibly a hungry coyote… but I figured it was just on its way from there to somewhere else and saw an opportunity. It trotted away behind a house into an open part of the forest, stopping once more before it left to turn and stare at me once more. This time I took a picture.
The pigeons haven’t returned since, neither for seed nor to offer their thanks. Pigeons aren’t ones for vocalizing their emotions but I know they had gratitude for my good deed.
Most of the wee beasties can take care of themselves, such as the chipmunk who artfully weaved in and out of the woodpile as the coyote sauntered past a foot away. The pigeons are not well suited for tight spots in large groups. So, I helped them out… and bothered the coyote a wee bit. The coyote’s lot is a tough one to be sure. But they are doing well for themselves and certainly aren’t in need of any assistance.
Tonight the fog has rolled in. Today I’ve tried to make some steps to roll past my own fog. This involved a day of prayer, wondering why prayer made me more morose, and then yet more prayer, realizing there could be lots of reasons, none of which made prayer any less vital.
To pray for impossible things is a good exercise I think. Makes the heart stolid, or so they tell me. And when the impossible things come to pass… that’s a fine thing for one’s faith. There are three impossible things on my list, and only one of them fully involves me. The second sort of involves me, and the third doesn’t involve me at all but as an observer. There are other things to pray about, but these are not impossible, so the soul can breeze through those without too much effort. It’s the impossible things which drive the soul’s words, which limit the visibility of faith, and which seem to possess my mind these days. So I pray, and will keep doing such. For that, more than all, seems to be my calling these days.
A little over a year ago me and some family stuck around and prayed for an impossible thing… that the fire which encircled this mountain would not burn Lake Arrowhead. There was no possibility this wouldn’t happen. But it didn’t happen. “It was a miracle,” our firefighter neighbor said. Not an easy or stress free miracle, simply an impossibility coming to pass… or rather a certainty not coming to pass. And they were right, it did make my heart a little bit more stolid. Which is why I have gone from praying for two impossible things then, to the three that occupy me now.
By staying and praying we risked our lives, foolishly but with faith that it wasn’t foolish for some peculiar reason. So still, I stay and don’t do what makes sense, praying for three impossible things knowing that a change of winds or a sudden storm or the breaking dawn can do wonders. It helps that I know someone who prayed for a different impossible thing, namely a wee bit of rain after a long drought. The wee bit of rain wasn’t impossible… but I’d say the twenty five feet the Lake has gained in the last four months rather was impossible.
That’s the other lesson, of course, namely stay close to folks who also pray for impossible things, especially those who seem to help them become quite possible indeed. Not only are their prayers effective, their stolid hearts are useful when one’s own seems slack and wane. But, that’s why the early church gathered every day… they had seen an impossible thing and were praying daily for many more. It’s a tradition, and a good one methinks.