The Ballad of Heber Downs

Heide Walsh
From the RMCA web site, July 2003

Dedicated to the lost rats and mice of the Heber Down Conservation Area.

The Ballad of Heber Downs

Once there were some ratties
Some with spots and some with hoods
Who were no longer wanted
And were dumped out in the woods.
The night descended early
As the sky stormed out a warning
There wouldn't be as many
Frightened ratties in the morning.
They hid as best they could
Along with unloved mouses
And looked with sad confusion
At the lights in nearby houses.
What were they doing out here
In this place with trees so tall?
They crouched down low and shuddered
When the rain began to fall.
Why do people do this?
Commit behaviour so abhorrent?
The ratties squeaked and huddled.
The rain became a torrent.
The evil wrought by man
Was echoed from the skies
Lightning, thunder, wind and rain--
No one could hear their cries.
The water rises quickly
Somewhere the first rat drowns
So begins the story
Of the rats of Heber Downs.

The day dawns hot and sticky
With rats soaked down to the bone
But now someone has seen them
And is headed for a phone.
Flashing through the wires
The news is out at last
Perhaps the last night's horrors
Would soon be in the past.
The Shelter took so many
As many as they could
And one undaunted woman
Took in way more than she should.
But now the work had just begun
Yet the attitude was stoic
The woman and the Shelter
Put forth an effort so heroic.
The internet was put to use
Spreading word of ratty plight
And the woman and her mate began
To put this evil right.
Ratties went to homes across the land
And past the border
And slowly someone's damage
Was being put in order.
Having rats, I'm shamed to say
Was never my intention
Until one day this heartless deed
Had come to my attention.
The urge to help undo this thing
Was more than I could stand
And so one day down to the shelter
I went to lend a hand.
And there they were-- so small and soft,
Huddled up and shy
Quietly one came to me
And I began to cry.
Their mom survived that night, you see
In the Shelter they were born
And as I held the one that made it
For those that didn't I did mourn.
Because of luck and love and grit
And the effort put forth daily
Into my life, quite gently, waddled
My Pokey and my Bailey.