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Prairie Memories- Birds

Ever since I have known her, Patti has had parakeets. She loves to hear them sing, and thinks they are so pretty. To me they are noisemakers and I refrain from setting them free, to be seen, or more importantly heard, no more, only because I can’t think of a good excuse for their being missing that will satisfy Patti.

My first experience with birds was on my uncle’s farm when I was in the first grade. I was following my cousins around, looking for the new kittens they wanted to show me, when a big goose came around the corner of the house and immediately came honking after me. I ran, but to no avail. The goose was nipping at my back and neck until I fell down, then she was on top of me. My hollering and the flapping of mother goose’s wings brought my mom around the corner, and although she was scared of birds, she beat and kicked that goose until she got off me. I think that experience is one reason I love the movie “Friendly Persuasion” so much, I identify with that young boy in the picture and his war with his mother’s pet goose.

When we first were married, Patti had two cats and two birds. The cats roamed our three story home, while the birds occupied a cage which hung from the vaulted ceiling, right next to the staircase. Patti was able to take care of them by going up the open stairway and reaching out to the cage. One day as she prepared to take the cage down to clean it, she dropped the cage. It came apart when it hit the floor, and as Patti screamed and looked on in horror, one of her cats grabbed one of the stunned birds and tore down the stairs to the laundry room. By the time Patti found the bird and cat, the damage was done. We had a suitable funeral for the poor bird, attended by Patti and her grandchildren, in our backyard. My hopes that I would only have to listen to the TV over the warbling of one bird were crushed the next time we went to Rapid City and Patti insisted on going to the pet store. We came home with another bird, one that sang even louder than the first one. A few years passed, and both birds passed away from a bird virus, and the bird cage was stored in the loft of the garage. Now, I thought, I could hear the TV without birds singing. Wrong. Patti has too many bird-loving friends. One such friend gave her two birds and a huge bird cage that now sits in front of the window at the bottom of our stairs, and they sing to their heart’s content, watching the sunsets in the West. The sound comes floating up the staircase, and fills the house until the sun goes down. When people come to visit, they comment about the birds and wonder how we can listen to them singing all the time. We have gotten so used to them,we say, that we don’t notice the racket. Except when we are watchting TV. Wintertime isn’t so bad, they are asleep by suppertime, but summertime provides us with a parakeet duet until bedtime. Patti won’t let me cover the cage with a blanket, and I can’t talk her into making a special parakeet quilt to keep them warm (and quiet), so even though I tune their signing out during the day, I have one ear following the show on TV and the other filled with parakeet songs every evening. It wouldn’t be so bad if they sang some songs I knew, I might even sing along!


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