Falling Death


It snowed last night, leaving me with a decision as to whether I wanted to walk to work in the cold, or whether I wanted to brave the roads in order to drive to work. I put the question to Tyler, who immediately responded “Walk!” A few minutes later, as I was putting on my shoes, Tyler asked “Where are you going, daddy?” When I told her I was about to walk to work, she said “But I said you should drive!” She kept a pretty straight face, so I’m not sure if she was tricking me or if she had forgotten or had genuinely gotten herself mixed up. She had just woken up when I asked her originally, so she might have still been asleep.

I’ve walked to work now a fair number of times, through a variety of weather. The worst was the torrential downpour in which I was caught. I was forced to ride the bus, but not until my pant legs were soaked through up to the hip. More than once I’ve realized about halfway to work that I was under-dressed, and suffered on through the bitter cold.

In a flash of insight this morning, I put on a pair of snow pants we had purchased for the skiing trip we had planned to take in Sweden. What a difference! My legs were warm the entire way to work. Indeed, the entire walk was considerably more comfortable than any previous cold-weather walk I’ve had so far. I don’ t know why I waited so long to put these things on before walking to work.

I stopped at the Cup O’ Joe for a large decaf. I’ve found that the steam from a hot beverage does a great job of warming my face, as well as my insides. Two blocks past the coffee shop, I heard a bird start to sing above me. Almost immediately, the singing stopped, and something streaked down through my peripheral vision. I looked over, and saw a small sparrow lying on its side in the snow. The snow around its head had a small pink stain. The bird was clearly still alive, and it kicked its feet a few times.

I stood, paralyzed, for a few moments before turning sadly to continue on my trek. I wanted desperately to put the little creature out of its misery, rather than let it lie there in pain waiting to freeze to death. Had I shovel or spade or even a big rock I would have decapitated or crushed the bird’s head to give it merciful release. I felt worried that stepping on the thing with my shoe wouldn’t do the job swiftly enough, and would only hurt it more.

It was an odd experience, and put me in a weird mind as I continued my walk. I still find it hard to shake the image of that little brown body framed in the white snow, its song silenced by the long fall it suffered.

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