Paying Attention to Benjamin / Franklin

Innocently cycling along the Macdonald Parkway pathway, I came across this:

Upon closer inspection, s/he proved to be alive, kicking, and ready to move. As s/he was headed towards the Macdonald Commuter Expressway, I took it instead down the slope to the shoreline and left it a few feet from the water.

For those gentle readers suffering from pathetic fallacy * , do not read on.

“Rescuing” Benjamin (or Franklin, depending in which language you read kids books) made up a bit for something that has bothered me for months.

Driving on the freeway out of Boston, we saw a giant turtle on the roadside: at least 2′ across and 20″ high, like a German helmet, up on all four legs, head out, striding confidently from the shoulder onto 4 or 5 lanes of very fast moving traffic. If he made it to the halfway point, he’d have to climb a 30″ concrete  jersey barrier, and make it across 5 or so lanes going into Boston. I didn’t like his odds. But there was no way to stop safely, and I doubt if I could have moved it. No doubt headed for the swamp on the other side, I’d be risking my life just to delay the CRUNCH for an hour or two. It was a sobering bit of driving after that.

Still with me?

Upon returning to Ottawa from that Boston massacre, I was going east on the Laurier separated bike lane, opposite the Muslim Co-op building. There was a squirrel darting back and forth across the road, leaping five or ten feet one way, then back.

A good lesson in why we don’t have Guide Squirrels for the Blind.

Remember the squirrel in Ice Age movies? He frequently gets frozen or stuck in a puddle, and leaps desperately in all directions while the back end remains frozen. On Laurier, a vehicle ran over Mr Indecisive. But only the back quarter. That part was squirrel pancake, stuck to the asphalt, and the front half jumped frantically back and forth in all directions. The next car approached, and stopped, the woman driver’s eyes popping out several inches in horror and her own indecision. Then the squirrel dragged its flat half off to the side of the road, presumably to die in a parking garage driveway.

Now that one bothered me for some time, too.

Still with me?

This one isn’t so bad. Almost inspiring.

Last Thursday, at 10.30am, I was driving some elderly ladies to a funeral. Just as I was to turn from Sherwood onto Bayswater, a bird swoops low in front of the car. Very low, maybe 3′ off the ground. And very big. Very very big.

It was medium brown, with wing feathers widespread like the fingers on our hand. Very light brown, but not quite white, shoulders. In its claws was a full size crow, wings outspread. The black wings flapped slightly, whether from the crow or the eagle I couldn’t tell. The eagle and its brunch landed in a tree, not 7′ above the ground, and we carried on to our scheduled funeral.

I’ve seen wild bald eagles up close, and this one registered as somehow somewhat different, but other than that, couldn’t say. But very impressive. Easily big enough to carry off one of those   pocket-sized yappy dogs popular with west siders.

I have seen birds of prey in our west side neighbourhoods before. Falcons are downright common. In February, while walking along Albert near Preston, a bird movement in an unusual position just 20′ up caught my eye. A grackle, flying low and fast towards some trees, suddenly plummeted straight down onto the yellow line of Albert. Followed immediately by the falcon that pecked at it and then flew off with breakfast.

In an earlier post, I photographed a hawk (?) with pigeon pie in Plouffe Park soccer field: http://westsideaction.wordpress.com/2009/11/26/gourmet-take-out/

Enough for the blood and guts of life on the West Side. On to gentler topics, like local politics, where the steaks are figurative and much smaller.

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* or, if you prefer: anthropomorphism, personification, pathetic bestowal … I won’t quibble.

6 thoughts on “Paying Attention to Benjamin / Franklin

  1. Resuing turtles is my thing. I wouldn’t have helped Franklin, too dangerous. LOL about the guide squirrels.

  2. I’ve seen Golden Eagles up close (from a car as well) in an isolated part of the Ottawa Valley so that would have to be my guess. I understand their colouring is a bit darker than what you describe and they tend to avoid population centres but like you say who knows.

    1. the eagles in the USA I have seen were american bald eagles, my first sighting, in florida, was from about 30′ distance, he was up in a tree watching the tourists and all the milling about birders, none of whom noticed him. Crazy. I don’t know birds well enough to say this was the same size, but it was definitely of the Rescuers Down Under caliber, that unique eagle brown, and was certainly 50% larger than the adult crow.

  3. I know a fair bit about birds so I would make a very safe bet that there is no way in heck you would ever see an eagle, let alone a Golden Eagle, swooping around Sherwood/Bayswater area. Neither of our two eagle species would be attacking crows unless they were just really ticked off. My guess would be a Red-tailed Hawk. They are somewhat common on the farm and it is only a short flight from Sherwood/Bayswater. Re: your link, the bird pictured is a juvenile Cooper’s Hawk. A fairly large true hawk…that is, it specializes in eating birds. They are quite happy to share space with us in the urban environment. Glad you rescued the little Snapping Turtle. Well spotted!

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