Jun 16, 2005 - Rants    No Comments

Disturbing Things On The Sidewalk

I have seen two things on recent walk that have greatly bothered me. First, I have seen about 3 dozen dead birds. Most have been small juveniles, about 2 inches long. But three have been adults. If it was near a window, I would assume they had crashed. All three, however have been no where near a window. Yesterday, I saw a baby bird on the sidewalk. It was so small that my brain couldn’t even register what it was at first. It was only about an inch long. I have seen more dead birds in the last few weeks than I have seen in my life. What is going on? I think it’s the supposedly harmless gypsy moth eradication program that St. Joseph County has been doing for about a month. Cropdusters drop tiny plastic flakes that are coated with a fungus in peak moth areas. The fungus is supposedly harmless to humans and animals, but yet there is warning to stay inside during these dustings and not to eat or drink anything that has been outside during the dusting. I think that is what is to blame for all the dead birds. Don’t birds eat moths? So if you decrease the bird population won’t that increase the moth population?

I have always been bothered by seeing people’s personal effects in the road or in parking lots. As a child I was particularly scared by shoes hanging from telephone wires, until someone told me that people threw the shoes up there as a prank. I thought maybe people were walking the wires like at the circus and had fallen off, but their shoes stayed behind. On my walks with Bijou Grace (9 month old Rat Terrier/Border Collie) I have seen lots of things that annoy me (cigarette butts and packs, candy, food, cans, bottles) and a few things I’ve collected (a Christmas ornament, various bottle caps for crafts, a crisp one dollar bill, a baseball, a bottle cap that won a free song). So far I’ve only seen one thing that’s disturbed me and reminded me of my childhood fears. On the grass between the sidewalk and the road, there is a fall of hair. If you don’t know what I mean, it’s a strip of hair sewn onto a little strip so it can be glued or pinned in. Alot of African-American women use them to give the illusion of thicker hair or longer hair. I assume the woman who lost it was African-American because the hair is black and we live in a predominately African-American neighborhood. My question is : how did the woman lose it? If it had just fallen off or come loose, I imagine the woman would have just put it in her purse. Falls are not a cheap item to be discarded like a broken flip flop. I pass it everytime I walk to the supermarket. I just keep seeing a woman being abducted. She’s struggling with her attacker, he pulls out her hair, tosses her in his car and speeds away. I don’t know if this is a psychic image or just the one my active mind has supplied as a logical explaination. Either way, I think I’ll walk on the other side of the street for awhile.

Update: Several weeks after I wrote this piece, I encountered another disturbing thing on the sidewalk. A hawk. A whole, complete, undamaged hawk. It was not roadkill as hawks do not scavenge. It was laying peacefully on the sidewalk as if it had just fallen from the sky. Another victim of the gypsy moth program, I suspect.

As the weeks passed, time and natural scavengers scattered the bones and made them more prominent. I almost wanted to take something, a wing, the skull, not for a grotesque souvenir, but as a sad reminder of an avian life cut short. My fear of disease and germs won over and I’m left with nothing but visual snapshots of those gorgeous tawny feathers and sun-whitened bones.

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