I had a strange day the other day. It was my birthday, but that’s not what made it strange. At last I don’t think so.
I came out of the house around 11 am and found two chickadees on the driveway beside my car. One was clearly dead. The other was possibly injured. As I slowly approached and wondered what in the wide world could have happened to these two on a clear, sunny day on my driveway, the dog bounded ahead to investigate. He nosed the closer (obviously dead) one first, then moved a couple feet away to the other one. The live chickadee withstood the snuffling for a few seconds, then flew off into the woods bordering our driveway. He (she?) didn’t look injured to me.
All I can guess is that the two were flying together and one (or both?) struck the side of my car and one died and one was stunned. Or, one struck the car and died and its partner flew down to the gravel near it and wondered what to do.
I have no idea what happened, but it made me sad and thoughtful. I put gloves on, picked up the dead bird, and took it into the woods.
And that’s how the strange day began.
A few minutes later, I was in my car, headed south to meet M for lunch in town. A mile or two down the road, I saw a flash of reddish brown and saw a bird (large, flying just off the ground) come out of the woods and head straight into my car. BAM! Feathers flew. I didn’t see a bird emerge, but, since I didn’t see a body on the road behind me, I assumed it had flown off quickly.
By then I was feeling a bit nervy. And worried.
Not a minute later, as I continued on, a woodchuck dove out from under the brush on the other side of the road and, you guessed it, straight at my car. I cringed as I saw it coming. There was no way I was going to miss it. I felt a bump, and then I saw it run off into the woods.
Now I was pretty terrified. Animals were hurling themselves at my car. I drove slooowly the rest of the way into down, white knuckles on the steering wheel, eyes skimming every surface, looking for wildlife. When I made it to town, I looked under my car. Nothing was there. I felt some small relief that at least I wasn’t carrying around any poor animals, and I still had hopes that the big, red bird and woodchuck were perhaps bruised but okay.
It wasn’t until hours later that I discovered the bird, firmly lodged in the front grille of my car — a partridge, we later determined. Why no one signaled to me as I drove around town to tell me there was a dead bird fixed to the front of my car, I don’t know. I like to think I would have said something if I had seen it on someone else’s car.
So, I was sad that I had killed this beautiful bird. And I was sad that I had driven around that afternoon with it. And I was sad that I discovered it when H was there to see it. And I was sad that I had to pull it out of the grille and find a spot for it in the woods and, so, had had to handle two dead birds on a single day. On my birthday.
Later that evening, as we drove south on the highway for dinner, a small rock was launched from the the wheels of the pickup truck ahead of us and crashed into our windshield. Even though it was an inanimate object, I just knew this rock had a mind of its own and had it in for me. It was pre-determined that it was going to hit and crack my windshield. I began to wonder if my car (or maybe I) was exerting some sort of gravitational pull on the light objects I passed by.
So, what was going on? The rational part of me has tried to explain away the animals by reminding myself that its early spring and animals are on the move. And the moon was a day away from being full, which is also an active time for wildlife. There’s also the fact of coincidence. Sometimes truly random events line up in a seemingly meaningful, alarming way.
But there’s that niggling part of me that can’t stop wondering what was going on. Was something — someone — trying to get my attention? I wish I knew.