May 29, 2010

Too many ‘near death’ experiences for one week!

Okay, so maybe just over a week, but enough is enough.

Last Thursday morning, it was me. Being hit by another scooter in the middle of intersection. Perhaps not the busiest intersection in the city, but busy nonetheless. As I’m sure anyone who’s been hit, especially on a scooter or bicycle, visions tend to haunt you. Visions such as, what ‘could’ have been. As easily as I was able to get up and carry on like a maniac, and justly so I might add, things could have been a lot different! I need not go there…

I’ve had a couple of restless nights thinking. However, things seem to be getting back to normal, especially sleep. I’ve mulled over the fact that perhaps, as some people have mentioned, the settlement was too harsh for such a ‘nice kid’. I’ve decided that the decision was just. Had I had the scooter repaired BEFORE the visit to the police station, the amount may have been higher. All water under the bridge now. Hopefully this other person will learn something from this.

The next thing that happened was a little closer to home – literally!

Back around March 13 (or so), a street cat that I have been feeding since moving into this house, had had her third litter. Four little sweethearts. So tiny, so innocent, so vulnerable. Had I not already had six cats living in my home, I was all set and ready to adopt these little darlings. However, after a few days, mother had moved her litter to another location. It wouldn’t be until about 2 months later that I discovered where this hidden place was.

I observed the little ones playing around at the end of my alley (aka, street). I tried to call them over, but being street cats, they were a little skitterish. They would run to a place of safety, and look at me. I did this over several days trying to entice them to come to me, to no avail.

Lately, I haven’t seen any of them. Mother, yes, but not the kids. I figured they’d either a) grown too big and couldn’t get out of their ‘hiding’ place, or b) have moved on.

If, by chance, option a) is true, then perhaps they’re trapped and cannot get out. I really do fear this for them, but what can I do? I have no way of getting to them. If option b) is true, then I hope that they are safe.

This morning, on my way to Anping, as I was heading down my street, I noticed that one of the little ones had been hit. I was, to say the least, devastated. A couple of months ago, I had the opportunity to save these little kittens. However, I was just not in a position to do so. Having already rescued five of the six that I have, I felt that for now, I have to remain at ‘arms length’. As a cat lover, this just didn’t sit well with me. But, I had no choice.

When I saw this little kitten lying in the road, I felt sick. What heartless individual could do this? I don’t care if you don’t like cats. Why would someone hit an animal, and then leave it in the middle of the road? A few months ago, the mother of these cats had had a brother or sister. I knew this because of having been part of this neighbourhood for as long as I’ve lived in Taiwan.

A few years ago, I had remembered seeing two kittens running around the area when I was teaching at the kindergarten. They were about the same size, similar in markings, and always running and playing together in the streets. Once I moved into this house, and saw the mother of the first baby, I recognized her right away. However, I hadn’t seen her sibling anywhere around. A few days later, I discovered this sibling lying under a table in the same neighbourhood. I was kind of happy to this cat.

I’ve read and heard on television programs, that feral animals, and especially cats, have a fairly short life expectancy. The average being about 2 years! Translate that to human years, and that means that a feral cat’s life expectancy is about 14 years. Sadly, unfortunate.

Sure enough, about 6 months ago, someone had hit the sibling. Again, I knew exactly which cat this was. I tried to call it to me, but it could barely move. I went home, got one of my cat carriers, and ever so gently, got this cat into the carrier. I took it to a vet in the neighbourhood. Several hours later I got a phone call. The vet had taken a couple of X-rays and discovered that whoever had hit this cat, had hit it so severely, that there was nothing he could do. The cat would have to be put down.

Again, I was so saddened by this. Perhaps if the cat had been taken to the vet earlier, then perhaps something could have been done – who knows. Perhaps not. But to leave the poor animal suffering and in pain in the streets is just unimaginable to me. I told the vet to do what he felt was necessary. It was a street cat, not my cat.

Now, this little baby kitten in the same neighbourhood. This little kitten is all of 3 months old – not even 2 years in human years. Fortunately, someone else had taken care of it before I got home. If not, I would definitely had done so. By the way, in the above picture, it was the little tiger kitten lying horizontally between the two black and white kittens in the picture. Farewell little kitten.

Finally, another somewhat sad event.

Taiwan is known for its array of butterflies. There are messages all through the countryside in Taiwan requesting motorists to take care in certain areas. Butterflies are, as far as insects are concerned, quite a marvel here in Taiwan. I have never really had the chance to photograph any of the marvelous butterflies in Taiwan. I have tried, but the cameras that I have had, are not that great.

Today, I had a great opportunity. A VERY amateur lepidopterist.

I observed this incredible creature floating around the bamboo trees near Nanmen Road in Tainan. Once it finally landed on a branch, I was able to take a few pictures. It’s body is red, the wings black with red dots. Incredible. I have never been this close or seen a butterfly such as this in my life. Sure, I’ve seen pictures, but not up close.

These pictures were taken with my iPhone with an app that can zoom in. The closer it gets though, the resolution is not that great. However, the butterfly itself was beautiful enough.

At one point, the butterfly decided it had rested enough I guess, and flittered off. I tried to follow it. Just as I caught sight of it again, out of nowhere, I saw a dove! An incredible bird. It soared directly to the butterfly, and the next thing I saw was this butterfly in the birds beak!

This was an incredible insect, and quite large by any standard butterfly I’ve ever seen. I also think doves are beautiful birds. And yes, I know that birds have to eat something other than bird seed. But why this butterfly?! Oh well. Food is food!

In the grand scheme of things, life is short. We all, humans, animals, and insects, have a certain amount of time. As someone once said, “… when your number is up, that’s it …”

I’m truly hoping that my number is a long way off! I’m hoping my ‘life ticket’ is just as good as my ‘lottery ticket’. A non-winner! I’m hoping my number will never be up!


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