Monday, October 7, 2013

Schlepping Sully Part IV

I think this is Glacier NP from the Lodge
I was set to depart for home on Sunday morning the 22nd. On Thursday, I mentioned to the staff person who'd been feeding Sully (bread) for 6 weeks that, with any luck, I'd be taking him with me.
        "Oh no, she said. "I'd miss him. I'll take him to Flat Head Lake when I leave."

This played into all my trepidations about taking him. Was it the right thing to do? Would he fly out of here on his own when the time came? Had that time come and gone? What if there weren't any birds at Flat Head Lake? The only other birds on Holland Lake were a pair of mergansers, and a Western grebe. (Or so I thought.) And if there were no gulls at Flat Head Lake, what was I going to do with a gull in the car for the 4-day drive home?

If I leave him, I told her, will you stop feeding him bread? He needs protein--left over fish, scrambled eggs.

         "Gulls are scavengers," she said. "He'll be fine."

If she hadn't said that, I might have left him, but she was blowing me off. She'd been taking care of Sully for 6 weeks and here's some squat little old lady about to abscond with their mascot--her buddy. She couldn't have cared less about my credentials or whatever it was I thought I knew about birds.


To be fair, all the staff at Holland Lake Lodge is amazing. Every person knows your name by day two, and you are treated like family. It was one of the most pleasant experiences I've ever had--with the single exception of worrying about the damn bird.

There was a baby shower on the lawn the same day I revealed the plan to Sully's other mother. I totally understood that they didn't want the pet carrier in the view shed, but it went from being placed out of sight to disappearing completely.

At night I would sleep for a few hours, then wake and run all the scenarios on a loop in my head. If I was a normal person (and I mean that in every sense of the word) I would have let this go, deciding that it was their bird, so to speak, and that I should let nature take it's course. But then I'm not normal.

Those of you who have read Lost in the River of Grass may see reality playing out where only a fiction existed. I didn't see that link between me, and my struggle to do the right thing by Sully, and Sarah and Teapot, the baby mallard in Lost . . . until I was on the road home. Or for that matter, now that I think about it, Joey and Sukari, Hannah and Rega, and Buddy and Annie. It's who I am, and what I do, and the theme of every bloody book I write. Duh!

I went to Liz for advice. After all she and this group of writers were regulars; they'd already booked next year's dates. I didn't want to turn the whole place on its ear over practically the most common species of GULL on the planet. Bless her and them. To a person, they were in my corner and suggested I email the owner who'd left--poor guy--for a vacation of his own. I asked yea or nay, did he want me to back off and leave Sully there?

I spent another sleepless night waiting for his answer, not at all sure, he'd even check his email. The next morning I decided to ask the owner's mother. She said absolutely I should take him, and promised I'd get the cage back to me on Sunday morning. Of course, that meant no more training him to eat on the inside, but there was nothing more I could do. I knew for sure that I'd get one shot at him. During breakfast, she whispered that the owner had called her. They both wanted me to take him.

That night, I borrowed a sleeping pill from one of the other writers.

I packed up Saturday night and put most of my stuff in the car. I also moved it out of sight of the apartment where this staff person lives. The gull-napping plan was afoot. It was still dark when I woke Sunday morning. I looked out the window, saw the cage but the gate, and Sully standing in the yard looking at it. I grabbed my bowl of leftover fish, scallops, and scrambled eggs, and tiptoed down stairs. No one else was awake, so I crept outside, and moved the cage over by the door where I'd fed him before. Sully came running, but would have no part of going in after the tidbits I placed in the rear of the cage. I spent 30 minutes alone working on getting him in, then the yellow jackets showed up, and the first guests started trouping out to watch the sunrise.

Sully wasn't bothered by people walking in and out, but he'd have no part of trying to take something away from a yellow jacket. I removed the food, and went in to take the chill off by the fire. Breakfast was starting and the place would soon be swarming with guests. I wanted to cry. Instead, I defrosted my feet and hands and went back out to try again.

I placed a tiny bite at a time--afraid he'd get full and lose interest--first in front of the cage, then just inside. He snatched them in the blink of an eye. If he didn't get at least the front half of himself in the cage, I wouldn't be fast enough to get the door closed. My stomach churned, and my back was killing me.

The sun was up and people were headed back in for breakfast. I'd been at it for well over an hour. Scallops were is favorite. I gave him a tiny taste, then put another bite in the center of the cage. I heard the lodge door start to open, but didn't dare look up. I heard it close. Sully charged in, I smacked him in the butt, and slammed the door. I grabbed the blanket I'd brought from my car, covered the cage to keep him from squawking, and took off down the trail through the woods to my car.


At breakfast, one of the other writers asked if I'd seen the eagle.circling off shore yesterday morning? I had not, but now was pretty sure Sully's life expectancy had been that day or the next.

This is how clear Holland Lake is.

No comments:

Post a Comment