These woods I am talking about are the woods that surround my incredible apartment in Bedford, Massachusetts. I was here again, these last two weeks. I love this place. I walk these woods and each step sounds that crunch of snowy leaves and soil beneath my feet. The tall and abundant trees, some with evergreen, others sparce and bare in these wintery months, stand tall against an almost white sky. The cold air on my face, there is a smell to it, of moisture and moss. This is a good place.
And then, on a walk that I took with my landlord’s son he walked me to see the Emu. I wanted to create the story that the facility that housed this bird was a secret, hidden place. But it was just here. No apology at all. And here, behind a chain fence, stood the bird.
He’s been here for as long as I can remember, said my woods walking companion.
And in that instant, despair landed in the beauty of the trees. Because I immediately projected that this was not a good place, nestled in my good woods.
But it is. It is the Concord Field Station and supports the “physiological and biomechanical laboratory-based research of animal performance, seeking to understand how animals operate in their natural environment.” It is research, not testing.
And then there is this bird.
I had so many questions. Does someone love him? Is he out there all alone all the time? And so is he lonely? What do they do with him? Is he a him? Or a her?
She/he looks incredibly healthy. Did you know that an Emu in the wild may live only 10 years or so (though some will live to 20) but in captivity they can live up to 35 years! And an Emu in Eastern Victoria is almost 60!
I went back a second time. And then, again, a third. And this Emu, here in this place, behind this metal fencing, this bird that has been here for as long as my previous walking the woods companion can remember, each time I show up he/she runs to the fence, and then along the inside edge, lowering and raising their head up and down, up and down, as they looked at me. Do I make him nervous? Or is she happy to see that someone is here with them? I truly could not tell though worried I was kind of upsetting them and perhaps should not stay for too long.
I called the facility, while I was standing on the path with my bird, to ask, am I bothering him? Is she happy to see me? How old is my bird anyway? And I learned he is 18 and loves company so feel free to step off the path and come in close to say hi.
Which I did. And while I did not stay for too long, it felt good to come in close to say hello out loud to this bird and not just to this bird. To the air out here. And the trees. To the path that I walk along to reach this place again. To say out loud, I see you and I know that you are here.
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Mother, Wife, Friend, Sister, Daughter, Dancer, Rower, Runner, Dog and Cat lover.