Birds of a Feather

“Your father has a hummingbird in the freezer for you,” I said to my artist son, James in church yesterday as we settled into our chairs.

“Is he dead?” asked my daughter, Miranda.

“Of course, silly,” I said.

“He smashed into the window, right?” Miranda said.

“I have a hawk in my freezer,” said James. “For when I have time to draw it.”

“See, it runs in the family, ” I said.

“One of our neighbors, who says he’s a minister in the Universal Church, admitted he kept a pelican and other birds in his freezer,” said James. “You know, for when he needs a feather for a ceremony.”

Miranda rolled her eyes. My husband, Alf shook his head and I laughed.

It takes all kinds.

I wasn’t sure which kind we were though.

It reminded me of an incident when I was a child in Mexico. My family and I went on holiday to the beach and left our parakeet, Perry with Martina, the housekeeper. When we returned home she greeted us and motioned for us to come into the kitchen. Martina opened the freezer door of the refrigerator, where we kept the ice cubes and ice cream, and extracted Perry in a plastic bag. She pulled him out for us to see. His little white and turquoise body was rigid, his eyes were closed, and his feet were curled up. She explained he had died while we were away. Pitched forward and fell to the floor of his cage. If she had left him there, he would have turned into a heap of feathers and bones by the time we got back. So she stuck him in the freezer.

I didn’t believe her story. I just knew she had killed him. Out of jealousy.

Calvin says, “If I found a dead bird on the ground, I’d stick my nose deep into its chest and breathe bird into my memory bank.”

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2 thoughts on “Birds of a Feather

  1. There’s a hummingbird that flits outside my window when I’m writing, and his presence cheers me up, and encourages me to keep writing. He’s a happy little thing, or at least, I imagine him to be, looking for nectar and lady hummingbirds to flit with. I once saw a dead hummingbird on the ground shortly after my brother’s passing away–it was so sad, that it caught my breath away and made me burst into tears. I was on my way to a swim, and there he was, just laying there by the walk to the pool. I drowned my sorrows in the swim, and felt strangely sad all day long until I remembered that “not a sparrow falls to the ground without your Heavenly Father’s knowledge.” That comforted me. I’d love to see that humming bird drawing or painting after your artist son creates it.

  2. I agree. There’s something about the fragility of life when you see a dead bird on the ground that rips at your heart. But have you noticed how rarely you see dead birds? I wonder where they go to die?

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