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Commitment to a bird can be flighty


A few weeks ago, my little baby lovebirds started peeking out of the nesting box. Suddenly, one brave guy stepped out onto the perch and flapped his wings as if to take a huge breath. It was the first  fresh breath and space he ever experienced. He went back in, but an hour later, took another shot at exploring the outside world. This time, one of his siblings followed. I decided to lift the top off the nesting box to let some sunlight and fresh air into their stale, dark space. The birds chirped happily and started popping their head out of the box, and an hour or so later, they even dared to sit on the rim. Within two days, all 5 birds were out on perches looking confident, happy and exuberant with freedom.
They had little patches of down still filtering through their feathers, but mostly, they looked like mature birds . I suddenly couldn’t tell them apart from the parents.

Knowing I didn’t need 7 lovebirds, I listed the 5 baby lovebirds on craigslist. Within an hour someone called to take two of the birds. The caller told me their family had lovebirds for over 12 years, and one died a few months ago, and just that morning, the partner bird finally left this world. The son and father wanted to buy my lovebirds as a surprise for  Mom so she wouldn’t be sad. I thought that lovely. My birds were going to a good, caring home. Till death do us part. That is true lovebird commitment. 

Now, I had 5 birds making a mess on my porch, and things were getting worse because a squirrel ate his way through the screen to get to the seeds and nuts he spied around the cage, and he keeps coming in to explore and raid the bird cage. When my dog spies the squirrel in his territory, he runs out and chases the poor animal all over, knocking over plants and candles as the panicked squirrel tries to get away. I have gone out a few times trying to shoo the squirrel away with a broom, and each time I do, I move cautiously. I have visions of getting bitten and succumbing to rabies and dying a painful and ugly death. I’d fix the hole in the screen, but I know that as long as the bird is out there, the squirrel will do more damage and return. Squirrels, cute and innocent as they are (they are just following instinct when they get annoying) still do not belong on a person’s porch. Especial when each time this happens, the birds go crazy, flap about and cause the gravel on the bottom of their cage to spread about the porch, also making a mess.   I spend the little quiet time I have out on that porch, drinking coffee, looking at the trees and quiet nature behind my house, contemplating life. I NEED a clean porch more than I can describe. It’s my haven – a little patch of solitude and nature in a life that misses her former expanse of forest, pasture and soft breezes.

So,  the next day, when someone else called wanting all 5 of the babies, I sold them all even though it meant I would no longer have lovebirds.  I have had my fun raising the babies. It was an animal adventure that touched my heart, reminding me of the fun I had with nature in Georgia. Kind of bittersweet to be raising animals again, only in Florida, missing the space and opportunity I once had, but at the same it being reminded of the glorious promise of unlimited life possibility that was mine for a short while.

In the end I made about 150 bucks on my lovebird adventure . Not bad- considering I had fun in the process. That is the way of animals. In Georgia, I bought animals, but in the end sold them for almost what I paid. In some cases (when my horse had a baby) I made enough money on the offspring to pay for the cost of the animal’s upkeep for many months. In the case of an animal being attacked and killed (my baby llama or chickens) I ended up losing on the entire experiment. But the memories were precious and will be with me always – the good and bad.  All told, I spent several years enjoying animal explorations. Once, during my divorce, I finally put the entire cost of food, health care and animal acquisition on paper just to see what the investment cost me over the entire time I was there. The total was far more minimal than I expected. Not unlike buying a boat and selling it later for a bit less, but knowing you had a great time on the water in the meantime. I didn’t regret or feel guilty about the small fun I had in Georgia after that revelation.

When I delivered the last of my lovebirds to the new owner (we met outside of Target) she inquired about whether or not I had any other birds. I told her about Whynot, my mini macaw and she offered to buy him as well because she wants to fill a huge indoor aviary her husband has built for her. Again, I could have sold this bird for more than I paid for him so it was tempting.  I told her I’d think about it and she said she’d call the next week. She hasn’t called yet, and I’m rather glad. I honestly don’t know what I’ll say if she makes the offer again. 

The problem is, Christmas is coming, and between the squirrel and the coming cold, I know the bird will need to be moved inside again. The place where I put his cage indoors happens to be where I plan to put my Christmas tree, and so the thought of becoming a no-bird girl again has appeal. But each time I sit quietly outside and enjoy a few moments of connection with this quiet, lovely pet, I feel I’m meant to hang on to him. For some people, commitment is flighty. But for me, it is hard to let go of anything I care about.

I often hang on to something even when it doesn’t make sense. When this involves people or promises, I know its because I have a serious problem with giving up on anyone or any situation until there is absolutely no chance, even a long shot, to make things work. When it involves “things” I recognize it’s because I make associations between things and events in my life. All around me are small, simple objects that are packed with meaning and no one but me will ever know the triggers they are for feelings or memories … or inspiration. I like it that way. Life has not been easy, but it has been fascinating and filled with soulful moments. I guess I like having things near me that are reminders of where I’ve been, who I’ve shared experiences with , and all the subtle reminders of a full, big life that is still unfolding, revealing secrets and endless lessons. Life is in the details and I want to always stay mindful of the details.


  

About Ginny East Shaddock

Director of Heartwood Retreat Center, Ginny is also a writer. This is her personal blog with essay form writing about life and reflection. My entries are often lengthy and random, because I'm not here to promote or sell anything. I'm not expecting followers - just find this format a good place to think with the pen.

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