Our usual morning inspection of the outside dog pens revealed an injured bird right in the middle of the big dog play area. Now, I am an animal lover, but I am not big on birds (or snakes, for that matter). Birds are either little and fragile or big and nasty (they can peck your eyes out!). In either case, I usually steer clear of them. This is the second time in two years we have had an injured bird end up in our backyard, so we knew to call the SPCA and ask one of their wildlife specialists to come and take our feathered friend back to wherever injured birds go. The SPCA prefers that you put the bird in a box to protect it until their arrival. So I found a box and approached with caution (the last time I did this, mama bird was close by and repeatedly dived bombed me as I attempted to rescue her baby, thus reinforcing my irrational fear of birds!). I stared at the little guy, wondering exactly how you were supposed to pick up a tiny injured bird. When I turned to seek some advice from my employee, I noticed her backing away slowly with a wary look on her face. Now this girl has worked for me for over five years, and we both have wrestled the biggest and scariest of dogs into submission without breaking a sweat, yet here we both stood, afraid to touch a tiny bird. After a brief discussion with the SPCA, we were informed that we only had to place the box over the bird. So I summoned what little courage I had, looked around again for an angry mama bird poised to strike, and quickly placed the box over the baby. I am not ashamed to admit that once the bird was secure, I ran away as if a swarm of hornets was chasing me! After the dramatic bird rescue, the rest of the day was uneventful.
I am making great progress on my second book, but I have all kinds of small detail type questions that I would like authentic answers to. I find that my progress can quickly come to a halt when I get hung up on these little details. Because Buffalo grew so quickly during the early nineteenth century (after the completion of the Erie Canal) some details that were not important, say in the 1830’s, might become important in the 1840’s. My first concern is Christmas. In the early nineteenth century, Christmas was not yet a big holiday, so I am wondering if gifts were typically exchanged outside of the family. For example, if a wealthy family wanted to give their domestic staff gifts around Christmas, what would they typically be? Also, where in the city would a school teacher live? Currently, said teacher lives in Mrs. Cornish’s Boarding House at the corner of Beak and Exchange Streets (an authentic location). However, if this lad wanted to marry, could he afford a house on a teacher’s salary? If so, where would he live? Finally, I am interested to know just how severe the winters would have been in Buffalo during the early nineteenth century. Would they have been as bad as they typically are now? How would individuals and the city at large handle snow removal? I am hoping to find answers to these questions over the next few weeks so that I can continue moving forward and meet my late November release date. Suggestions welcome!