Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Where the Dead Things Are

I'm not sure why, but lately I've been finding the odd dead thing in our yard. When David was mowing a couple of days ago, I walked out to the backyard and found a dead infant bird. It looked like it had been blown out of the nest shortly after hatching, although I could find no signs of shell or nest nearby. It was very light--I used a dandelion stem to roll it onto its back. It had little feathery wisps tufting its head and back, and its brain and stomach were blackened. The skin of the bird's belly was translucent and wrinkly, almost like tissue paper. There was something very sad about finding this little guy. Not only is it sad that his life was cut so short, but the fact that it was just lying there in a bed of clover without anyone mourning for it was just wrong. I wanted to pick it up and hold it, but at the same time, wanted to leave the bird in peace. I came back later to check on him, but he was gone. I suspect he became part of the food chain for another bird or small animal, only fitting, really. You might wonder why I took his picture--I know I did. Upon reflection, it seemed only right to do so as a tribute to this little one so he will be remembered. At one time he lived and breathed, and perhaps chirped a bit of bird song on entry into the world, making the world a more beautiful place.

On the same day, I was wandering down by our creek to see if I could catch a view of a frog, and I saw through the clear water...a claw! I did not think about possibly having crawdads in the creek, but it made perfect sense. You can't tell from the picture here, but the claw seemed a little blue or silvery. I had only ever seen crawdads that were red (we used them as bait on occasion when we were kids and went fishing with Dad, and sometimes we could catch them at the fishing hole and play with them).

Today I spied half a crawdad shell sitting in the rock next to our pseudo-creek (as opposed to the real creek that borders our property). I picked him up and put him on a bed of moss to photograph him. The inside of his shell is completely empty; his shell is quite hard and surprisingly thick. He looks a little pissed off, if you will pardon the expression, so my guess is that he wasn't very happy during the detruncation. (The severing occurs too far down the body to really consider it a decapitation, but I'm not really certain detruncation works, especially since truncate means to shorten...which means detruncation would probably mean something like the act of un-shortening, or the act of lengthening--which doesn't really apply here. Hmmm. Gotta love the English language.)

But I digress. He's really quite beautiful, even in his pissed-offness. He's a beautiful color, although I don't know if the silvery blue is his natural color or whether that's the color he turns because of his death or exposure to the elements or loss of blood or other bodily fluids or some combination.

So...calling all crawdad experts. What can you tell me about this guy? Or, if you're not a crawdad expert, what do you think?

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