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Natural Awakenings Charlotte

Younger and Wiser

Jun 28, 2020 07:49PM ● By Shannon Mc Kenzie

An interesting thing happened earlier this month. As my kids and their friends were walking home from the lake, a small movement under a tree by the side of the road caught their eye. It was a fledgling that had lost a leg and was bleeding; a sibling lay dead next to it. Thinking a cat must have been responsible, the kids picked it up and carried it straight to our backyard. They made a home for it in an empty birdhouse, cut some blueberries into pieces and fed it by hand.

I was completely unaware of what was going on. I looked out the front window and absently noticed my daughter and her friend knocking an empty bird nest out of a tree. My son came in the back door, looking for scissors and athletic tape, and I helped him find them, but I didn’t ask why he needed them. I did wonder why the kids were spending so much time in the backyard and behind the shed, but I quickly moved on. It wasn’t until later that evening that my daughter finally came to me, told me what happened, and asked for my help. She said they didn’t tell me originally because they were afraid I would say to leave the fledgling, that there was nothing we could do. 

They showed me the bandaged bird, and even though they had managed to stop the bleeding, I’ll admit that I really didn’t think we could help. But I agreed that we’d keep the baby bird overnight and then see how it was doing. 

The next morning my son got up bright and early and found the fledgling hanging in there. I’d made a list of veterinarians and bird rescue organizations, and so my son called around and eventually made his way to Carolina Waterfowl Rescue in Indian Trail. We texted them a picture, and they replied that we needed to come quickly and drop the bird off, which we did. While we don’t know the fate of the fledgling, we are grateful such an organization exists. I’m also grateful that my kids and their friends cared enough to take action. And I’m a little ashamed that they hid it from me because they didn’t think I’d be supportive.

When I saw the title of the artwork featured on this month’s cover, “The Spirit of Growth,” the first thing that came to my mind was the fledgling. Actually, I thought about the kids, and the empathetic instinct that made them work so hard to overcome such long odds—which they knew that “older and wiser” folks like me would be quick to remind them of. They reminded me that true growth begins with a willingness to do the hard work, despite the odds. This month I see a need for that strength of commitment—personally and collectively—so that I/we can truly effect change.

Wishing you a new or renewed habit of doing the hard work now, so we don’t revisit the same issues for years to come.


Shannon McKenzie

p.s. To donate to Carolina Waterfowl Rescue, visit

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