I have never wanted to kill an animal so badly in my entire life.
This morning began like every morning. We ate breakfast, we cleaned up. Charlie ran outside in his jammies to check the progress of his strawberry.
The first red strawberry of the season. The beautiful, ripe, red strawberry that we have been waiting until it was just right before picking it and eating it whole. He's checked it every day for a week. First he inspects the top, bright red, juicy, delicious looking. Then he gingerly turns it over to see if the bottom was ripe too. It was almost ready yesterday. When he turned it over he said to Ryan "Not yet! But it's getting close!" before gently placing it back in the soil.
Charlie turned on the hose and carried it over to water the vegetable garden. The children have to do their farm chores before being allowed to watch their PBS Kids, of course. I sipped my coffee on the porch and mused about how happy I am that Charlie has taken such an interest in the garden.
Charlie squatted at the edge of the garden watering the strawberry plant for several minutes without making a move for his perfect strawberry. Without making any move at all, actually. He was still, all his attention focused on the strawberry plant. When I walked over to check on him he said "Mama, the strawberry is broken! Can you fix it, please?"
The strawberry had been chewed all the way around like an apple. It lay pitifully, right where it's always been, covered with a few flecks of soil.
"Oh, Sweetheart! I think a bird ate it! I am SO SORRY." I put my arm around his slumped shoulders.
"Can you fix it?"
"No, honey, I can't. A bird ate it. We'll have to wait for the next one."
"Why did a bird eat it?"
"I guess the bird was hungry and saw the strawberry and thought it looked good. He didn't know it was yours, he is just a bird."
He was crestfallen. I gave him another hug and told him that the plants will make more strawberries all summer long and asked him if he'd like to help us build a cover to put over the garden so the birds won't take any more strawberries. He agreed.
At church I was discussing our pumpkin patch with a gardener friend of mine when Charlie squeezed between Ryan and me and blurted out "A bird came and ate my strawberry because he didn't know it was mine. BAD BIRD." The grandfatherly man barely missed a beat and told us how to build the cover. Then gave us lots of bonus advice about killing roly polies with crushed up glass. Charlie loves roly polies. It was not good.
Ryan and Charlie put up some stakes and a net (brand name: Bird Blocker) while I was at a meeting. Rather, Ryan put up some stakes and a net and Charlie yelled at every bird that came within fifty-yards of our garden.
"We put up a net! Don't get too close, you could get hurt! You can't get the strawberries now! Sorrryyyy!!"
Which is a far kinder thing than I wanted to yell. Which is that I've been Googling recipes for "Songbird Shish Kabob" and think it will go nicely with the bok choy that came in our organic vegetable delivery.