Possibly I’m deluding myself, but I like to think that I’m not too squeamish nor am I a wimp. I will admit that I don’t do well with the dead. Residing anywhere for any length of time one will encounter road kill. That’s a fact of life. Here in New York, the unpleasant sight of a flattened pigeon or rodent is common.
Whenever I encounter the downside of nature, I make a mental note of where not to look and what street I will side step for the next few days. Every time I do stumble upon some creature’s untimely demise, it is always a bit jarring to me. I am never truly relaxed when I glimpse a mangled form of what was once very likely earlier that same day a living critter. This does not imply that for the rest of that day that image will haunt me. It is an isolated shock in the moment, but then I move on, forget about it and resume whatever it is I am doing. I don’t dwell on the frozen lifeless cat put out with the trash. Okay, that dead cat I saw nearly twenty years ago was exceptional. It has remained stored in my memory bank forever, but usually, I delete these images almost as quickly as I see them, unless, of course I photograph them. Hey, you never know when you might need a picture of pigeon splat.
On a recent rainy afternoon I had to run an errand near my office in Tribeca. Sheltered under my umbrella, I was moving at a brisk pace, focused on getting to where I was going when my eye caught that simultaneously familiar and shocking sight of a limp heap lying atop the corner of a tree planter. I thought the usual:
Then, I did the usual. I looked away and walked past. I assumed it was a dead blackbird, similar to the kind of bird featured in Alfred Hitchcock’s film, The Birds. As I raced away, I was uncharacteristically still thinking about that bird. I felt disturbed. Birds do not normally drop dead atop tree planters. Some cruel creep had to have harmed that poor defenseless creature. I felt outrage. I wondered:
Me: Was it poisoned or shot?
People, their inhumanity and their lack of respect for the living infuriate me. I write a blog, I have a voice, and on a good day I have seven readers (if my friends and sister check in). I am obligated to be a spokeswoman about this sort of mindless animal cruelty. Therefore, I reversed course and marched back to that tree planter, if only to show my compassion for …
Maybe there is a shred of hope for the human race after all. It might also behoove me to get my eyes examined.