To the editor:
I buried a friend this morning, in gray light high above the valleys and lakes of the Okanagan, with a glimpse of the big blue lake in the distance.
The ground was stony and hard-packed by the ancient glaciers, but after a slow start, the bigger rocks seemed to give themselves up freely, as if knowing the cause for their disturbance.
I laid my friend to rest with a pine tree close by, in case its spirit wanted to enjoy the view from the top of it. Just over another hill, I knew great horned owls hunted and raised their families. I blew tobacco smoke to the four winds, in the manner of some native peoples.
The red-tailed hawk had been found by a caring Armstrong family who had done all the right things to give it a second chance. They had contacted OWL in Delta, an animal rehabilitation centre specializing in raptors, who in turn contacted me for transport of the bird to their facility.
Despite our efforts, the hawk did not survive the night. On my arrival at her home, a teary-eyed Diane greeted my canine companion Bruno and I with the sad news. I tried to comfort her with the fact that with birds injured by human contact, usually cars, 90 per cent die.
Through tears of my own I thanked her for the efforts of her family.
As Bruno and I left the grave and drove home we stopped to visit a dog we usually see on our morning walks. As I watched them share their friendship I started to feel a bit better, watching life go on.
At home, I played fetch with Bruno and watered my small garden, vowing to take better care of the living things I was responsible for.
We will return to that special place close to where my late wife and I once hiked, to pile more rocks on top of the wild, free being that once soared above us all, to protect against coyotes and bears who know nothing of sentiment. Perhaps my two friends are soaring together.
Should any readers find injured animals, help is just a phone call away. Any SPCA or veterinarian will give you all the information you need to care for the animal until someone like me can take it to the best place for its recovery. There is never a charge for their services.
Perhaps someday you will feel the elation and joy when another being is returned to its domain to hunt and play again. More often, you will feel sorrow that despite all you did, Mother Nature decreed that life would end, as it will for us all.
In your heart though, you will know you tried and that is the one good thing that sweeps away all the bad, in time. You will have that feeling forever.
Do you believe in second chances?