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A Good Life With the Little Yellow Bird
Near to the anniversary of the sudden death (in egg removal surgery) of a companion bird who, some eight years ago, flew into my life from parts unknown, I remember part of a letter I wrote to a friend, recalling part of the comforting daily routine.
We are pledged to protect this little bit of Earth and take it most gravely when we apparently fail.
There are all the “firsts” – the quotidian chores beginning in the morning now gone from the books. I rise up, head to the kitchen, and the moment the water is applied in the sink (or even the removal of the coffee pot for cleaning), she comes to life 45 feet away – either chirping or, as more recently, banging a pair of bells in the cage. I know at once there is another day with G. So many were the mornings that she was somehow silent. I’d approach the covered cage, whistling our common language, and not hearing a response. My metabolism rises, hair begins to lift, and I begin to say the name. No response. I begin to imagine a world without Goldie; is this it? Are we finished? Then, somewhere between the moving of my hands toward the cage, and the peeling back of the first blanket layer, I hear a tiny quip. She’s tired today, she’s molting, she’s just not in the mood.
The blankets roll off like a sardine can lid, and there is the friend – the kindly appreciating eyes, the looking up. Once she awakens more there is the stretching of one wing, then the other – all the while glancing up as if to say “you’re here”. There are bird owners who swear they even see a smile. I take out the feeding container, empty yesterday’s and apply a new scoop. I retrieve the water basin, making sure it is squeaky clean before applying new water. I check the other water feeder. I note the paper towels under her grid. I think we can go another day. Since she spends so much time in the foyer now elevated over four pages of New York Times (always discarded by a neighbor who can yet afford that) the cage gets lighter use, which is nicer for her. I always thrill to her use of the little trapeze – the swing from the cage – which she now enjoys in open air. I would come into the apartment, look left and up, and there was this gift staring down at me – mostly. She actually knew what I wanted – how to please me. I simply marveled at how she’d shimmy down the cable to the stirrup – an expert at using claws and beak. I worried over her possibly making a chew toy out of my parents’ large bedroom mirror, but she never even scratched the frame. Our last great toy, very recently, was a panel of balsa-like wood I hung over the frame where she carved out in a perfect letter-c. It is still hanging there.
The Google Home speaker in the living room was set to a good morning routine that included music to help keep her company when I was out of the room. The good night routine included an hour of crickets. Now the crickets chirp for no one, and music soothes nothing while I am out, save maybe the plants, possibly the molecules themselves. A jasmine plant just now resides where the window cage was – that bit of wire and plastic received from a neighbor.