13.7.08

Animal Rescue Irish Style


Several times a week I walk a loop near my house which is very beautiful and challenging for the thighs. Rarely does anyone other than the odd asylum seeker say ‘Hi’; even on one Christmas Day there was a distinct absence of season’s greetings although there were more walkers than usual.
Imagine my surprise then, last week, while setting off down the hill, I was stopped by a woman in work-out gear standing looking at something in a garden. ‘There’s a bird trapped in that tree,’ I think she said. Indeed there was a little woodpecker trapped upside down in a net draped over a cherry tree to protect it, not totally effectively it would seem, from birds. But as alarming as the bird’s situation was, it was the woman’s accent that really piqued my interest. ‘Are you Irish?’ I asked, and it turned out she was from Cork. So in an attempt to rescue the bird which would have made the Three Stooges look well organized and efficient, we dithered, oohing and aahing over the poor bird’s distress, ringing door bells, which nodody answered, approaching some Polish workers nearby in search of scissors to cut the bird free – they spoke neither Norwegian or English, and didn’t have scissors – as we nattered on as only Irish women who haven’t spoken to other Irish women in a while can.
How long have you been here? Why are you here? Oh he’s dead! What were the chances of us meeting like that? Let’s try that house over there. Where do you live? Oh, he’s still moving, the poor thing. Oh Lord, what are we going to do? Do you like it here?
We would natter on, then remember the poor bird with the plastic digging into his feathers, trapped upside-down, with us its only hope of escape, then natter on again, walking up and down the road in search of more practical, less voluble people than us.
Eventually, we marched back up the hill a few minutes, to my house, and then armed with an aerated box, scissors and some gardening gloves, and my two daughters, we drove back down to the cherry tree. The children love a good animal rescue as much as any other Animal Planet viewer.
Third-time lucky, and the house owner, heard his bell, and emerged happy to perform the release procedure cutting through his net, and allowing the bird to peck at his fingers while I cut away the more stubborn bits of plastic around the bird’s feet and wings.
Once free, the little woodpecker flew away, to tell all his friends his great adventure story, the cherry tree owner went back inside without as much as an exchange of names, and me and my new Irish friend came back to my place to continue our mutual verbal diarrhea. She was privy to a tour of my daughters’ bedroom (uncharacteristically tidy, as the serendipity continued), and gamely enthused over my younger girl’s cartwheels while we exchanged abbreviated life stories. She has only been here three months, and has just moved into an apartment nearby.
It turned out that she was flying home for a couple of weeks that day, having been delayed by cancellations at Dublin airport the previous day, so couldn’t stay and talk for long. If it wasn’t for Dublin airport’s radar malfunction, a trapped woodpecker, and a mutual love of walking, albeit in opposite directions around the same loop, we would probably never have met.
If only it was always so easy to meet friendly, interesting people.

6 comments:

Five-Browns said...

How cool is that? Am stoked for you Jo - kinship at last! I remember bumping into South Africans while i was abroad and we always had "that connection" regardless of whether we woulda been friends in our own country!

ireneintheworld said...

fab jo. glaswegians do exactly the same! x

Caroline said...

How serendipitous - lol. lovely story

Aidan said...

Now that's a cool story and woody woodpecker lived to fight another day - shucks ;-)

Thriftcriminal said...

Cool when that sort of thing happens, takes the randomness out of life a bit.

Joanne said...

Great story. We moved into a house and the previous owner had done the same (the netting) over the palm trees and the most beautiful birds, weavers love to pull the palm fronds apart to weave their nests. There were 2 dead birds inside the netting. Of course the netting came off straight away, we didnt mind them pulling the fronds apart. But in fact it pays to plant grasses in close proximity for the birds to 'use'. But then of course you would have to care enough.