The sight of danger in my backyard (6/40)
“Okay. Well, that’s not what you want.” I muttered to myself while I looked at the giant turkey vulture perched in my backyard.
I knew I had to scare it away before letting my ten-pound chihuahua out. I made myself bigger, opened the sliding door, and ran outside like a flamingo landing on a lake. The vulture flew away, more out of compassion for my fragile male ego, and I could see in his face he was thinking,
“Sheesh, man, is that all you got? What will you do when an intruder breaks into your house?”
I do live in a little paradise. The house I rent in Sonoma County is not large. It’s enough to have our family and our dog. The backyard is modest and no bigger than our small footprint, and we are surrounded by neighbors who take incredible pride in their backyards.
So, even though we only have little citrus trees and a few Japanese maples, we are surrounded by mature locust trees, pistachios, plums, and even two very mature redwoods.
This paradise invites birds like finches, sparrows, hummingbirds, robins, blue jays, and many, many crows. I once saw a black heron hiding in the redwood; one of my neighbors raised chickens, and another one raised, successfully, quails- until the quails killed each other.
We are not only visited by birds, but now and then, outdoor cats would stop by, and once, I saw a very wet opossum walking on a fence with a grace that was antithetical to its nasty looks.
But a turkey vulture was new.
And one that I had myself to blame.
You see, my wife and I decided to have our kids at home. To be clear, she decided, I supported, and she alone had the babies. It wasn’t a shared experience. She had both babies by herself. I was there. But she did the brunt of the work.
We set up a water tub in the middle of what was once our dining room, which then became a play space and later became my oldest’s room. My wife was instructed to move in there when she felt the contractions change from one type of contraction to the other.
I’m unaware of what the difference is or how it feels in a woman’s body, and I’m not going to try to mansplaining it, but I know that one is meant to be the body ready, and the last one pushes the baby down.
Once that happens, it is the signal that you are life is going to change forever, and you will never again have a second to yourself — even if you are the naive-about-to-be-a-first-time parent who still thinks you will have time to golf, drink, or get a massage regularly.
I witnessed the implacable timing with which my wife’s body tricked her into believing that she couldn’t do it, just so she would have the last release of adrenaline that would help her deliver both babies. This was something our hypnobirthing coach had prepared us for it.
Now, a pool needs water, doesn’t it? Ours certainly did. Maybe some people would like to have the pool more as a symbol, but my wife actually wanted the water. But once that birth happens, all that water is there.
Well, what do you do with it?
You can just get rid of it.
You can throw it indiscriminately somewhere in your garden that has proper drainage. But one thing to do is pour it into the backyard’s flowers, plants, bushes, and trees. We did, and our garden wrote us the most thoughtful thank-you notes. Okay, fine, they didn’t, but if they had arms, knew how to write, and had a modicum of decency, they most certainly would’ve.
The second birth water actually brought more clots than the first one. (Oh, grow up, you baby! You were born in the same placenta pouch as everybody else unless you got a little peckish and started eating some of it, so yours was a little small).
But I thought I was still going to put it all out, and maybe the plants won’t be the only ones feasting on my youngest daughters’ nine-month house, but the crows might even get a little bite from it.
I thought, “Crows are a nuisance for most people, but I don’t mind them as much. I’m always entertained when hundreds of them are called to defend their territory against owls, hawks, or even pigeons. I also think they are very smart, and honestly, it has been a while since they last pooped on my car, choosing instead of pooping in my other neighbor’s cars. So why not feed them?”
But the crows weren’t the only ones interested in it. Hence, the turkey vulture. That’s when I decided to pick up whatever was left of the solid remains of the water and throw them in the trash.
Both births were amazing, and by the time we were done, we were able to go back to bed and take naps with our newborns. But nobody really warns you about the dangers of turkey vultures coming into your backyard after you foolishly pour the birth water into it.
Now you know.