danger and rescue in the woods

This is a story.
It happened a long time ago.

Our family cottage was built among the dark and brooding coniferous woods along the Ottawa River. We drew our drinking water from a well located up a forest trail. In summer, my younger brother and I had the small task of drawing the occasional bucket or two of water from the well. We didn’t mind as venturing up the trail into the dark woods seemed more adventure than hardship.

One morning, we set out up the trail. It was foggy and a light drizzle was falling. As we approached the hand pump at the well, a terrible shriek shattered the misty woodland silence. We ducked and dove into the trees, perhaps expecting some terrible banshee to descend upon us. But instead, there was silence once more.

Soon, we grew brave and stepped back onto the path. Once more, the shriek cut through the silence. This time, we held our ground, peering up into the shadowy branches of a tall cedar. Far above, a pair of glittering eyes gazed down upon us. As we watched, the bird, a crow, edged out of the darkness. All at once, it beat its wings, about to take flight, but instead, twisted and fell forward, dangling upside down, its feet tangled in thick, black fishing line. It scrambled back to its perch and squawked angrily.

The tree was too tall to climb, so we dropped our buckets and ran to the cottage to tell our mother about the crow by the well. Carrying a shaky, wooden extension ladder, we returned to the tree. My mother climbed to the very top, but could not quite reach the crow — which was probably just as well, as it screamed and flapped its wings as she reached to untangle the line. She descended and returned to the cottage. Minutes later, she came up the path carrying a long bamboo fishing pole with a sharp knife taped to the end. With a thick coat over her head, she climbed back to the top of the shaky ladder. Holding the fishing pole above, she carefully sawed at the line. In a few moments, the crow was free and wasted no time on appreciation as it flapped upwards through the treetops to freedom. As my mother descended from the ladder, my brother and I looked at each other and smiled. How many mothers would climb a shaky old wooden ladder, wielding a fishing pole with a knife taped to the end, to saw loose and rescue an angry, shrieking crow?

Notes: pottery bird flute from Oaxaca, Mexico – photos by bev wigney

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6 Responses to “danger and rescue in the woods”

  1. Mark Paris Says:

    Not many mothers.

    Birds don’t seem to have a well-developed sense of gratitude. I have rescued hummingbirds from my under-construction living room and from my garage. They get inside and then confuse the white ceiling for the sky. They spend their little selves fluttering against the ceiling until they are exhausted. I climb a ladder, sweep them up gently in a towel and release them outside. They don’t even look back. Maybe they blame me for setting the trap in the first place.

  2. robin andrea Says:

    Wonderful rescue story. My mom would never have done this rescue, but I think she would have wanted to. We’ve rescued our share of little birds, but our stories aren’t nearly as exciting or full of adventure as this one. Mark’s right, though, the birds don’t ever look back.

  3. Amy Says:

    Your mom rocks!

  4. burning silo Says:

    Mark – You’re right about birds. Their instincts tell them to flee as soon as they’re released!

    Robin – I have such a dislike for heights that I’d probably have at some second thoughts about climbing a shaky wooden ladder even if it was to resuce a bird.

    Amy – Yes, she sure does! (-:

  5. Peter Says:

    Great reading and the effort put into this is appreciated. I enjoy your stories as much as your more educational and observational posts too.

    Also thanks to all the contributers, I had some good reads today.

  6. burning silo Says:

    Peter – Actually, putting together a blog carnival does require quite a bit of effort, so I always greatly appreciate when another blogger assembles one. They’re certainly a good way to discover other good blogs. As for the stories, I’ll probably write more of them this autumn and winter. I actually do a lot of story-writing, but at this time of the year, that side of my writing takes a back seat to the observational stuff.