An overheated van provided an ecology lesson at the expense of this poor mockingbird. My lemon of a van was once again behaving strangely, so I added more anti-freeze, hoping to forestall another blown head gasket. I happened to spill a tiny amount and quickly went inside for a bucket of water to rinse or at least, dilute it. I'd read that it can poison some animals unable to tell the difference from water. Delayed by a phone call, I returned with the water to find that already, this mockingbird's thirst had brought him to sip some of the chemical under the van and quickly die on the sidewalk just outside my studio door, some of the fluid still draining from his beak—all this in less than five minutes.
As I stood there saddened, it was easy to recognize that this abrupt experience profoundly emphasized the impact a common, seemingly benign substance has on our surroundings. Obviously, I'm much less casual about my impact now; reminded to remain so whenever I see or hear a mockingbird. I photographed it to make sure I could pass this lesson along to others. Poor fragile, innocent little being.