Monday, August 13, 2007

remembering a feathered friend

last year I lost a beloved friend to the wind. A parrot. It was a terrible accident, all too familiar among bird owners, forgetting her wings had grown out, my husband who'd been carrying her on his shoulder all afternoon, walked outside in a rainstorm for some simple task, and she spooked and flew into the trees. Having no experience with flight, having weak breast muscles, a heart not accustomed to bouts of flight, a life in captivity ... well, the odds were against her. We never found her again despite days of combing the woods and calling, placing posters everywhere and her picture on the internet. The storm raged on for several days. We lost hope. Hawks and eagles frequent the area. A beautiful blue-green bird would hardly go unnoticed. Especially one who had trouble navigating the skies.

Arwen was a rescued bird. She'd lived in a small cage with a previous owner who finally decided she didn't want her any longer, she was loud and aggressive, apparently, and sold her to a local pet shop. I visited that shop one day to buy a toy for my dog. Arwen jumped on my shoulder and with her face nearly pressed into my cheek, stared sweetly into my eyes. Well, what could I do? I had no previous experience with parrots, but decided I couldn't live without her. I took her home that day. She was an absolute joy to our lives.

Sadly, we didn't have her long enough... hardly knew her ... but completely loved her.

Sometimes when I walk in the woods near my home, as I did today, I have a pang of emotion that runs deep. So many times when she was afraid it was necessary for her to look directly in my eyes for reassurance, sometimes crawling inside my shirt to peep out from my collar and survey the world from that safe place. I'd promised to protect her forever from the loneliness she'd come from, from abuse, from any imagined harm that might befall her, confident that she'd be with me forever... for her, a good 40 years!

She was just a bird, you might say. But if you've never lived with a parrot, you could never know the intense, loving bond that is formed with these amazing, intelligent birds. As great as that with a beloved dog. Perhaps even greater.

I have two young parrots now, just a year old. Both as sweet and smart as can be. The bond is already stronger with these two, because they've only known love and kindness and both lack the mistrust that Arwen possessed when she first came to live with us, having previously experienced how deceptive a relationship with humans can be. These two play exhuberantly and fearlessly, laying on their backs with their feet up in the air, silly and childlike. Many parrots mate for life and their flocks are tight family groups of older and younger siblings. Aunts, uncles, sisters, brothers ... just like ours. Thankfully, these two will never know anything but friendship, kindness, gentle hands, and loving care.

I guess this month I've thought much about her loss. I know there was a lesson to be learned. Something about letting go of attachments in a universe where death and loss are everyday occurances. As are exquisite beauty, birth, compassion, virtue and hope.

Had it not been for Arwen choosing me that day, I would've never known about parrots. I would've never made the decision to bring two of them into my home! The door of their cage is opened every morning until they go to sleep at night. They have their play area, and plenty of toys, and then they have me ... their biggest toy. Their favorite toy, too, I might add.

Just as I am writing this loving tribute, little Mr. R., the dusky headed conure, popped the Escape key right off my laptop! Just in case I waxed too poetically!

(Above is a photograph of Arwen in my husband's hands, getting a head rub! But it took time to get her to this point ... initially she wouldn't allow anyone to touch her back. Once she came to trust us, this was one of her favorite things!)

Sunday afternoon, after much talk of rain... the sun shown and the day was warm and beautiful. And again, this morning is perfect. Not too warm, nice and breezy. I haven't decided whether I will continue my painting spree or reorganize my shop today. (I just learned last night that "spree" was an old Scottish word meaning "cattle raid!") Neither enterprise seems particularly appealing today ... a third option is to take the day off and head to the seaside. But that wouldn't be very productive, would it?

Still weighing my options. May your day be fabulous!


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Ackoelade said...

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