By Sue Murphy
Seeing the robin in my yard yesterday made me smile. I don’t know where the robins go over the winter, but they seem to return just when I’m not quite sure spring will ever get here.
Lots of animals travel. Great herds of gnus loop from the Serengeti to Masai Mara every year, literally seeking greener pastures. Salmon swim against heavy currents in Alaska to return to their original spawning grounds. Seems to me a smarter salmon would opt to stay home and marry a local girl, take a lesson from our now local Canada geese who used to wing their way both southward and northward, but one day looked around and decided to stay put. I’m sure the change has saved a good bit of wear-and-tear on their wings, but I worry because it seems the geese may have forgotten they even have them. When a far-off patch of grass entices them, they just walk out into the street, all but defying the cars to run them over.
Why did the chicken cross the road? It’s hard to say. I’m more interested in the how of it. Street crossing is risky. Once the winter chill is over, it seems all the animals in my neighborhood start jonesing for the other side of the road. Being fast and focused, the chipmunks are very successful with their crossings. The turtles are focused, too, but are much too slow for their own safety. Squirrels aren’t focused at all, stopping to do a “should I or shouldn’t I” dance in the middle of the lane.
And of course, the deer, poor dears, should not be crossing at all.
I unintentionally carried some kind of flying insect around Birmingham for an entire afternoon. I’m not sure when he came aboard, but I tried several times to encourage him to freedom through an open window. He didn’t want to go, preferring instead to travel along with me. I’m not sure when he made his way back outside, but right now he could be wandering around the Walmart parking lot looking for his long-lost friends. Or maybe it was the insect’s plan all along, to hitch a ride on a passing four-wheel freighter to parts unknown.
Even if his trip was intentional, stepping out into unfamiliar climes must have required an adjustment on the insect’s part. Whenever I visit the Birmingham Zoo, I think about how the rhino must have felt arriving in that giant crate they have on display. Given that he was crated, I’m guessing it wasn’t the rhino’s idea to leave his original home, and no matter how kind everyone was, the journey would have been unnerving.
When Sea World needs to transport killer whales, the process involves a sling, a forklift, a 38,000-pound tank and a flatbed truck. At other times, Sea World charters C130 cargo planes or sends the animals in a FedEx jumbo jet. Porch pirates, good luck with lifting that delivery.
My grandchildren keep asking me to bring my dog, Dave, with me when I visit, but I’ve seen the doggie relief area in the airport and I feel sure he would consider it an insult to his dignity. He’d much rather go to the doggie hotel and spa where I imagine he sips doggie mimosas until I return.
No matter how you look at it, animal travel is treacherous, so chickens, if you feel compelled to cross the road, at least look both ways. Same for you squirrels and turtles and near-sighted armadillos. But deer, you poor dears, just stay put.