Friday, May 25, 2012

Two Gulls and a Snake, among other tails (tales) Or "Thank you Mrs. M!"

In the last few months, I have been reminded of some of the lessons my third grade teacher taught her classes.  Not directly a part of the curriculum, just a coincidental life experience that was truly beneficial and lasting . . . a teaching of perspective.  Her classroom was full of animals, not the typical domestic pets, but rodents, snakes, and spiders and bugs.  We were allowed the pleasure of learning about them over the months of the school year, but more importantly how they were a part of our environment and that they deserved respect.  Not fearful respect, but adoring respect.  We learned about species that were safe to handle and not fear, and that they are very much a part of our world, and to not be shocked or disgusted by them nor cruel to them.  I have been reminded of that several times in the last months, as there have been times these little friends have needed a helping hand and I feel privileged to have been in the right place at the right time.

One incident was when a neighbor called to ask for help with a baby seagull on an elevated roof.  He was separated from his parents, not able to fly ( had fallen out of his upper roof nest home).  Neighboring cats were eying him from a nearby fence and he was in danger of starving or being eaten, or falling further.  Lois called and we concocted our solution with Debbie who brought her net. I was chosen to climb out the small upper story window onto the roof, with a rope tied around my waist.  They held the rope which was also tied off onto the stair banister indoors.  I squeezed through the window and out to the roof top with the net and gloves.  The little gull was cautious, but it was not difficult to get close enough to put the net over him, then gently pick him up and place him up on the higher level with his parents. Happily, he would spend enough time there to gain his wings and fly away not long after.

Another animal in distress moment was as I was driving home from a dental hygiene workday.  On a somewhat busy street , two women were flagging down cars to go around a large snake that was coiled in fear in the middle of the road.  The women had saved him from being hit by stopping the traffic, however, they could not get him to move from where he was, no matter how large a stick they tried to coax him with.  After pulling my car over, I had a strong feeling it was one of my sentimental favorites of  reptiles, the gopher snake, so I pulled over in hopes of getting him easily out of the way.  There was no mistaking this friendly critter, and I told the women to not be afraid, I was going to grab him by the neck and body while he was preoccupied with their stick and then place him on the hillside off the road.  Within seconds he was slithering away, safe and happy and I applauded the women for taking the time and courage to stand in the road for this beautiful 4 ft snake. 

Just yesterday, I saw a seagull hobbling frantically and bleeding from his leg in the middle of our neighborhood street.  When I parked and got out to check, he had a fishing hook caught in his leg and a leader line with more hooks dangling off and somewhat tangled around his other leg.  There was not much choice but to grab an old towel from my car, and gently toss it over the gull, pick him up securely and seek help from a neighbor who was working in his garage.  I asked him to bring out wire cutters to see if we could cut the hook end to pull it out.  After clearing the line, we found that the barb had pulled through to one side.  I held the feet fast and secure while the young man carefully cut the bead at the other end of the hook.  He then pulled the barbed end out  and the hook through the leg until the gull was free of the entire rig.  Next he was set free on the plants on the edge of the cliff by the beach.  He looked very unhappy with us, but I believe he start to heal and hopefully fully recover. 

Thank you again to those teachers who don't just teach facts, but teach perspective and values, especially in such a subtle way.  It is such a privilege to get that close to the experience of a wild animal, do something that hopefully makes a positive impact.  Thank you for teaching me to recognize those that are safe, those with which I can be so bold.