“Kind friends all gathered ’round
There’s something I would say
What brings us together here
Has blessed us all today
Love has made a circle that holds us all inside
Where strangers are as family…and loneliness can’t hide”

– Kate Wolf (1942-1986)

There are different kinds of loneliness. There’s the easily understandable kind, you know, the lost on a desert island kind, no human contact, or going for long stretches of time without seeing anyone because you are working on yourself.

Then there’s the not so obvious kind of loneliness. The kind where you see people every day, you socialize with your friends, but there’s no one there that really understands you, or knows what your needs are. That’s a sad feeling, a feeling that gives you that vacuous look, that longing stare.

Maybe we tend to anthropormophize animals because we are animals ourselves and they give us a peek into how we should really be acting. We are praised in this world on very non-animal things; so professional, so pretty, so “together.” We are never praised on cries well, loves well, feels pain and suffering deeply.

Last night, after a brief hiatus from Wildlife Rescue, I returned again. It’s squirrel season (lots of babies are born in August).

It tend to enjoy caring for the birds more than the squirrels. Not that squirrels aren’t wonderful creatures, I just have more of a connection to the birds.

What typically happens in September is that we get fewer baby birds and more squirrels, but we had a few baby hummingbirds last night, and I fed those first. One was hovering off his perch, saying “I’m ready to leave now, truly” and the other sat at the bottom of his basket, tired and confused, saying “I do not like it here but I do not feel well enough to go yet.” Maybe that’s the true sign of health, when the current situation no longer serves you and you are ready to move on. But sometimes we become stuck and have to stay in one place for a while in order to heal or learn something valuable.

My first squirrel of the night was a lonely little petunia of a black squirrel that had fallen face first out of a tree. He was obviously hurting. I tried to feed him his formula, and I put TAO (triple antibiotic ointment) with a steroid on his eye. As I fed him he wheezed alot, like he was having trouble breathing. I presumed he had some internal injuries and was in alot of pain. I also gave him some Clavamox and some aspirin to help him feel better.

After I gave him two and a half CCs of formula he reached for me, then curled up in the little towel I was holding him in and tried to sleep. I knew it wouldn’t be prudent to let him sleep overnight without some food in his tummy, but it seemed like that is what he needed most, just sleep and warmth. He seemed to say “just let me lie here, I need to rest.” He seemed lonely in his inability to communicate his needs. If only I understood squirrel silence. I woke him back up, and as I fed him slowly I stroked his head, and he closed his eyes a little again, probably thankful for some kindness. I think by holding him close to me and making him feel wanted and loved was probably the best thing I could have done. That’s what his mother would have wanted, too, as she wondered and wandered in the night.

Love is born in fire; it’s planted like a seed.
Love can’t give you everything, but it gives you what you need.
Love comes when you are ready, love comes when you’re afraid;
It’ll be your greatest teacher, the best friend you have made”


Hawk in Road

Every morning I drive to work and I look for birds on this one particular stretch of road. My gazes are fleeting – I only have a few seconds to observe these particular birds. They are waking up with the sun, warming their feathers and nares and tiny talons. They are pigeons, gulls, and blackbirds.

In winter I think alot about the birds at night. Huddled together in their nests, conserving their energy and trying to stay warm. And hummingbirds (mostly male) are in a state of torpor every night. Torpor is a state of regulated hypothermia. A hummingbird, in torpor, slows its heartrate from 1260 bpm to a staggering 150 bpm when it goes to sleep at night. This is so it can conserve its energy to wake up the next day. When a hummingbird rises with the sun, it takes 10 minutes to an hour for it to raise its heartrate back to 1260 bpm and begin its day searching for food. When female hummingbirds are laying eggs and raising hatchlings, they do not go into torpor because they must stay warm to keep their children warm.

Every day that I think of cold and warmth I think about life’s torpor, human torpor. I experience it alot, I try to get unstuck, to warm up, to begin each day anew. And I turn to the birds to find some insight. Sometimes my parrots and I watch the gulls fly overhead, and our hearts lift and long to fly away with them. I imagine what it must be like to wake with a clear view of the mountains and the sun and a pink sky, and to feel the sun on my face and the vibrations of the earth.

Where do you find your energy, your inspiration…what wakes you from your torpor? A slight breeze to lift your wings might be all you need.

May all beings be peaceful
May all beings be happy
May all beings be safe
May all beings awaken to the light of their true nature
May all beings be free

– Metta Prayer