More than one bird had met its maker there, so I thought I was becoming a totally bird-friendly house when I cut out a couple of paper bird shapes and taped them up in the porch window.
Usually when birds hit my windows they leave a smudge or maybe a fluffy little feather, whether they survive the hit or not.
Not so this time. It couldn’t have been but a few weeks later when this showed up within inches of the paper bird cutout.
Can you see it? The outline of the whole bird is there–round body, two spread wings, head, and even what might be a beak or crown. When I get up close I can actually see 4-5 individual feather impressions at the tips of each of the wings. It was just a little horrifying at first, similar to seeing body tape on a sidewalk marking where someone died, but I never found a body.
Several days later another imprint appeared–but from a very different animal. This imprint was near the bottom of the sliding glass door on that same porch. My camera couldn’t capture it, but I think your mind can.
Imagine dipping your fingertips into dirty water, almost muddy, but not quite. Now place your hand on a window, palm side down, and run your hand down the window, leaving muddy little finger streaks. Do it again and again and again. And maybe once more. The whole bottom quarter of the glass door looked like small children were having great fun with very dirty fingers.
Raccoons of course. I’m guessing they’re used to being fed elsewhere in the neighborhood by coming to glass windows and doors and standing up at them to beg. No such luck here. Several summers ago, I found long, coarse black hairs on a roughly-textured, plastic-covered porch swing cushion, not far from this window. After a few moments of panic, I guessed that raccoons were partying (and swinging!) on my porch at night.
I haven’t been able to wash either of these imprints away–I’ve grown rather fond of them. But eventually they will disappear, along with my memory of watching the hummingbird this October morning in the rosemary bush.
Not so the people closest to us, as David Levithan assures us in Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares, “The important people in our lives leave imprints. They may stay or go in the physical realm, but they are always there in your heart, because they helped form your heart. There’s not getting over that.” Maybe these animal imprints and impressions, all these experiences that force us stop and wonder, are there in our hearts also.