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Stories by Helen Kobek

Oh, how the warm spring weather lures us into the great outdoors! We are drawn to the woods, to the aromatic blooming [bzzzzsssning, smack! Sorry for the interruption] of the deep outdoors, or to the evening hanging out on a porch [bzzzzzing – smack! Sorry, again! For the interruption!] with friends. So warm…so peaceful! So greatly free of winter’s constrictions and burdens. So comforted by the long, long days. So…so…beset. Beset by the buzz and sting of mosquitos, summer fun-wreckers. Purveyors of merciless itch.

Photo of small bird in flight.

This can happen anywhere there are houses and birds. This story is about what to do when a bird flies into your house or apartment in Cambridge. Which can happen to anyone. Here, in Cambridge, measuring just about seven square miles, with so much wildlife, so many birds, especially at this time of year. There are also so many bird nests (where many birds live), you probably live within fifteen feet of a bird nest nestled into some eaves or foyer and you don’t even know it.

It is impossible to predict how someone will respond to having a baby. There can be the best of intentions and expectations: joy, bonding, sharing the moment, and thinking about the future. There can be the best preparation: the stack of wee onesies and diapers, perhaps a rocking chair, a baby shower, childbirth classes, and prenatal appointments. Your baby’s name has probably been chosen. Everything is all set, awaiting the welcoming of your newborn baby girl or boy. The moment comes, and you give birth at home, a hospital, or a birthing center.

I recently sat down with a Carrot at the Cambridge apartment of Chris and Liz to talk about readying to enter the new city-wide Cambridge Curbside Compost program. Please note: This interview took place the night before Carrot was picked up at curbside, and two – TWO! - days – DAYS! - later, Carrot was producing clean heat and electricity in the Greater Lawrence Sanitary District facility. Here’s my interview with a most delightful Cambridge Carrot:

The word "Stress" in red capital letters, with many darkened cartoon hands rising up from word.

Isn’t comfort the last thing you think about as you move through your sometimes harsh day? As people bump and squish you on the T? As worry sets in about being late? As your boss puts you in your place and you’d like to grab them by that little piece of vertical flesh between their nostrils (it’s called a columella), pull them to you and scream, “I am not your bread machine!!”?

"Note to self: Think about maybe getting more of these." Image of battery.

(Author’s Note: THIS ARTICLE IS NOT ABOUT HOW TO PREPARE FOR AN EMERGENCY IN CAMBRIDGE.)

When you think about emergency preparedness, what comes to mind? Jugs of water in your closet? Cans of beans stacked in your kitchen cabinet? A battery-powered radio and flashlights, with extra batteries? A decent, basic first aid kit? Some single-use hand warmers? A heavy coat, in case it’s cold and the heat goes out?

Jackhammer being used on city sidewalk.

It happens all over the City, and soon it will start happening to me and my neighbors, right here on Gore Street in East Cambridge. Excavation is being done all down our street to put in a sewer line for North Point (now Cambridge Crossing). This will be closely followed by excavation for a new Eversource gas line. Followed by excavation for a new water main. Followed by jackhammering for replacement of sidewalks. In all, within roughly eighteen months, we will experience four – FOUR! - passes of noise, vibration, and dust.