Memories with Richard Bleil
My father, apparently, grew up with dogs. I believe he had dogs pretty much his entire life, and as such, would not let us have pets in our house when I was growing up. I really don’t understand why, but, there it is.
Are you crying yet?
My sister did, none the less, have a couple of pets. The first was a chick (no, not a derogatory term for a woman, but a baby chicken). It was a school project to hatch a chick, and at the end of the project, the teacher asked if anybody wanted to take it home. My sister volunteered. It didn’t live long, as my parents (within a week or two) gave it to the milkman.
In her senior year of high school, one of her friends gave her a parakeet. This parakeet, Sunny, was very clumsy. As it turns out, the cage had a round plastic top that Sunny couldn’t land on, so he learned to land vertically on the side of the cage. This means he would try to land on people by grabbing onto their faces. It wasn’t until we got a new cage that he learned to land horizontally and started landing on shoulders. When we would let him out of his cage in the evenings, after supper, he would always fly to my dad, poop on him, and fly off again.
Sunny had a couple of funny habits. I think he had the “zoomies” periodically, flying frantically around the house and eventually plowing into a wall leaving a Sunny shaped grease spot feathers and all, a la Loony Toons. I’m sure cable was a thing back then, but my family was always behind technology (maybe that’s why I’m such a technophile today). Our television still had a rabbit ear antenna. Sunny would land on it near the base, and then walk out towards the end of it until his weight caused the antenna to drop down to its low point, and Sunny would ride the antenna all the way down like it was a carnival ride.
Having a parakeet, my mom was always afraid that he would escape one day. She had heard that parakeets don’t find their way home, which is why dad always would always be sure that he tied Sunny’s foot to a brick before throwing the brick outside for him to get some fresh air.
Yes, that was a joke.
Apparently, to get us back on track, in New York City, the park is overrun with parakeets that have escaped. They congregate in the park, and mate. Now it’s a problem, like pigeons. Washing the dishes, my mom, having heard this story, saw a parakeet in a tree in our back yard. She was afraid the parakeet was lost and hungry, so she decided to rescue it. Standing under the tree in her robe, she was holding her finger up, saying as gently as she could, “Come on, it’s okay” while making kissy noises.
Then another “parakeet” joined the first.
As it turns out, they weren’t parakeets at all. They were golden finches, the first we’d seen in the neighborhood. They didn’t fly away when they saw my mother, though. They just sat and looked at her like she had lost her mind.
Today, I don’t have pet birds. I have a cat. She’s my buddy. But I do have a myriad of outdoor wild animals that I feed. I put birdseed on railing and ask them not to eat it because I’m trying to grow the rail, but they eat it anyway. And I have a bird bowl with water in it. My intention is for them to drink it, but many use it for bathing. I also put out peanuts for larger birds like crows, and I have a very large badger that lives under my back deck, so I put peanuts out for him as well.
The other day, and you’ll think I’m insane for saying this, I saw two cardinals kiss. I have had these two, a male and a female, stop by periodically. They’re always together, and they’re so cute. About a week ago, the male seemed to pick up a seed and offer it to the female. He was holding it on the very end so most of it protruded from his beak, when the female accepted it. As she took it, just for an instant, it looked as if the two kissed.
I can’t remember the last time I had a kiss.