Tuesday, May 6, 2008

A Bird with Almost Nine Lives

Let's go back to when I was about thirteen years old. It is, unfortunately, a bit of a journey, but I think we can make it ...

Snow bent branches toward the ground, and even more swirled at our feet as my girlfriend and I made our way home one evening. Up ahead, I saw a bit of colour, and upon closer inspection, discovered a green-feathered budgie. I'd like to say I was wise enough to put the bird under my coat and take it home, but, apparently, I wasn't. I picked him up and stuck him in a bush. Then I went home and told my parents. They were probably appalled for they sent me back out of to retrieve the shivering budgie.

I raced back up the street, afraid the bird had found shelter elsewhere or, worse, died. But there he was, exactly where I'd left him (his feet probably frozen to branch). I cupped him in my mittened hands, and brought him home. Placing the bird on the floor, we watched as he walked up and down the hall, scratching and fluffing his feathers. We called him "Itchy" (I suppose we could have called him Fluffy, but that didn't seem appropriate). We retrieved an old bird cage from the basement, fitted it out as best we could, then introduced Itchy to his new home.

That was Life Number One.

Itchy became a great source of entertainment. Of course, this was in the days when there was only 13 channels on the television, and Monopoly was the game of choice. If we placed a spoon or quarter on the counter, Itchy picked it up and tossed it over the side, angling his head to the side to better hear it's ringing tones as it hit the floor. He loved to shower under warm, running water between the two sinks in the kitchen. And I shudder to think of it now, but I let him eat Kraft dinner from the side of my plate. He was a fully-fledged member of the family.

We never did buy him a new cage as the old one worked just fine, except for the door -- it had to be held open with a twist tie. Each morning, the cage was opened, and Itchy was free to roam the house while we were at home. I recently asked my mom if there was bird poop all over, but she can't recall, and neither can I. When we went downstairs to watch television, we carried the cage and Itchy down with us. One night, I noticed Itchy struggling at the cage door -- the twist tie had pierced his neck. Blood splattered, I screamed, and my dad hurdled over the coffee table, saving Itchy from a most horrifying demise.

That was Life Number Two.

One of Itchy's favourite warm weather perches was the screen door at the front of our house. Gripping the metal frame at the top of lower window, he'd watch the world go by. It must have been a Saturday -- that was chore day -- and my mom decided to clean the window of the screen door. To do so, she had to first lift out the lower window. It's difficult to explain, but suffice to say, Itchy lost a toe (claw?) that day. My poor mom felt so bad, but the injury didn't slow our bird down a bit.

That was Life Number Three.

Unfortunately, Itchy didn't survive his fourth life. Six years after that snowstorm, he died in a freak accident (of course). We missed him terribly, but continued to marvel at his determination and intelligence.


Raggedy Angst said...

Before I was born, my mom had a budgie that she really adored. During a flood, the bird got loose, and Mom was devastated. She could handle losing the furniture and the carpets, all that stuff, but she was heartsick about that bird. Happily, the bird landed on the shoulder of a traffic policeman who was doing his job, and he was able to track my parents down through the local pound. Mom got her clever bird back, and her children got years of hearing how we spent our childhoods getting lost and panicked at the local shopping mall when separated from our parents, but the BIRD was smart enough to figure out how to get home.

I love a happy ending.

jan said...

What a great bird.

I've never had a bird, always afraid I would be providing a poultry lunch for one of my persistent pets.

NuclearToast said...

I want to say something clever about how pets enrich our lives and we enrich theirs, but all I can do is giggle at what a funny word "budgie" is.

Lynn Sinclair said...

Amazing, Rags. I'm so glad your mom's bird made it home -- not only because it's a happy ending, but the bird's miraculous return was something she could hold over you kids. Moms need stuff like that.

Lynn Sinclair said...

Jan, a cat I once had almost caught another budgie I owned. I'm sure she believed the bird would make a very tasty treat.

Lynn Sinclair said...

Lol, NT, it is a funny word.

Budgie, budgie, budgie.

Georgie said...

I'll never forget my son's first pets were two adorable little budgies he named Tracie and Bobby. (Gosh, if this grown man of 20-plus years knew I was telling this story -- he'd probably say, "Mom...pulleeze!")

Anyway, Tracie, the female, would push poor Bobby around so badly -- then lift the cage door with her beak -- and push him out. Talk about a henpecked husband.

But being the little budgie "gentleman" that he was, Bobby somehow put up with his little "shrew" of a mate.

But boy, what a job it was to coax that poor, frightened little guy to go BACK in there with HER -- once he was FREE and flying around my living room.

No doubt about it, those two little darlings left our family with some great (and fun) memories.

Melanie Lynne Hauser said...

We never had birds...actually they kind of freak me out a bit. I remember, vividly, the time a robin somehow flew down our furnace chimney and got into the basement and flew around the house blindly - it terrified me.

But when my grandmother was near the end of her life and in a nursing home, she was in a place that had a floor-to-ceiling glassed in aviary full of beautiful little song birds. I was totally enchanted - and if I can ever afford such a thing myself, I might consider it. Although it would probably drive my cats nuts.

Lynn Sinclair said...

Oh, Georgie, that poor little guy. Tracie was probably just tired of cleaning up after him.

Lynn Sinclair said...

I'll bet that aviary was beautiful, Melanie, but what a job it must have been to clean it (seems I have "cleaning" on the brain, today).