I’ve been working for a while on some stories about a girl named Alix. Back in August, Alix did something embarrassing. It wasn’t something terrible, it was kind of funny, really, but she was embarrassed and she didn’t know what to do, so she went into the closet and sat there in the corner for awhile. A long while.
I didn’t have to research how it feels to be embarrassed, because I already knew. I had plenty of experience. I think that’s why both the words and the drawing flowed right out of me.
But a few weeks ago, Alix (to my surprise) found herself about to have an encounter with an injured peregrine falcon. I realized I was going to have to learn some stuff. I went to visit my local raptor rehabilitator* to get educated.
I learned how an injured bird, when first brought in, is swaddled in a blanket while it is weighed, given fluids, and so on. At this time, a visitor, a child even, might be asked to hold the swaddled-up bird for five minutes or so. It’s safe.
I didn’t hold a swaddled-up bird, but an unswaddled falcon sat on my gloved hand and pulled chunks of bird meat from between my gloved fingers:
I watched a convalescing bald eagle fly across the aviary, and I watched a snowy owl spin its head around backwards. I learned a lot. Then I came home and worked on my picture and my story.
They say we should write what we know, but it doesn’t have to be something we’ve known forever. We can keep learning.
*(a big p.s.: my local raptor rehabilitator is Rebecca Lessard, founder and director of Wings of Wonder, a raptor sanctuary and rehabilitation center that has rehabilitation and education as its primary mission. For more information on Wings of Wonder, aka W.O.W., go here. I am so grateful to her for generously sharing her time and her expertise. There are a number of places like this around the country. Maybe there is one near you. Search “raptor rehabilitation + (your state).” )
Tagged: research, write what you know