He’s absolutely the most thoughtful boyfriend I’ve ever had. On the day before Christmas, he gave me his version of ‘A Partridge In A Pear Tree.’ It was a darling little Parakeet in a rounded top cage decorated to look like a tiny tree. It hung from a floor stand that was a single pole, bent in a half-circle at the top, suspending the cage at eye level.
“Now, Marcie, all you have to do to take care of him is put some of this birdseed in his food cup each day and keep fresh water in the other cup.”
That certainly seemed easy enough, though I’d never owned a bird in my life. I grew up in a city apartment with my mother, and all we ever had was a cat.
“Bart, I love him. He’s so cute with the little white beard and forehead and the blue body. The way his wings are black with white-tipped edges, oh my. He’s a miniature painting of nature’s best.” I hugged Bart and kissed him. What a unique Christmas gift to remember. I had my own version of the bird in the song about the twelve days of Christmas.
Bart left after other bird comments. I was taking my mother to the afternoon Christmas Eve service at our church. A small dinner at my apartment later when Bart would join the two of us. I’m a better cook than Mom, who taught me much of what I know, but I’m better with recipes. My girlfriend helped me decorate my place, and I had lights strung everywhere. The tree looked like a small bonfire at night.
Before dressing for church, I thought I’d fill the food and water cup so my ‘Bluebird of happiness’ would have plenty. That was my temporary name for the little fella until I got a better one. I opened the small cage door in the center, reached inside ever so carefully so as not to disturb Bluebird, and lifted out the food cup. I dumped the hulls in the adjoining kitchen and poured the little cup almost full of tiny seeds.
When I turned to head back, my heart sunk. Little Bluebird had jumped from his perch to the open cage door. He had his little feet wrapped around the wire at the bottom of the opening, partially out of the cage.
“Oh, no, Bluebird. Please get back.” As I hurried over to shoo him back, I suppose I scared him, and he took flight.
Let me pause here to relate one, no so tiny, thing about my apartment. My cats. That was the reason Bart knew to get me a cage suspended in the air, to keep the cats away from the cage. My big cat is Sampson, a white rescue that had large paws when he was young. He grew into the paws and now weighed eighteen pounds. Contrast to my big strong muscled cat is Samantha. She’s a demure eight pounds of black and white short-haired breed, thin and quick as a lightning strike when she wants to catch something.
I don’t even remember where the cats were at the time Bluebird escaped, but he couldn’t have been more than a few feet in the air when I caught movement of a white blur in the corner of my eye. My heart paused momentarily, then pounded as if it might come out of my chest. Samantha in another corner of the room was on the move also. No! They just can’t kill my brand new little bird, I thought.
All the days my cats had watched birds on the back patio behind the glass doors and wished they could chase a bird or chipmunk must have had them longing for the real opportunity. They dug claws into the carpet so as not to ‘spin their wheels’ as I’d seen on the tile kitchen area floor, and were in a blur of motion—both of them heading to where Bluebird was about to land on the top of the bookcase.
As Bluebird waved his feathers backward for a perfectly smooth landing on the wooden top, Samantha and Sampson were heading that way. Sampson used the end table by the chair as a springboard to a shelf next to the bookcase. In making the lunge, he knocked over the table lamp, which came crashing to the floor, shade collapsed, and the bulb cracked, exploded, and went out in a bright flash.
Samantha sprung over the coffee table, scattering the tiny little glass ornaments in a colorful bowl I’d put there for a Christmas table decoration. Many of them broke and spread tiny colored slivers of glass in every direction.
Sampson was first to spring to the edge of the bookcase top, hitting my little basket of dried flowers with the red ribbon. Tiny brown leaves flew in all directions like you’d blow on a dandelion in summer.
The cats were absolutely berserk with the live flying bird to pursue. Naturally, at the sight of monsters with bared claws approaching, little Bluebird again took flight. Samantha climbed right up the shelves of the bookcase to the top. She arrived as the bird flew, leaving only my small Hummel figurine in her path. It tumbled off, heading for the hardwood floor not covered by the area rug. Praise the Lord. It tumbled just far enough to hit the carpet instead of the wood and didn’t break. I took a cleansing breath that the little four-hundred-dollar investment was still in one piece.
It was not over. No, not by a long shot. Little Bluebird headed for the next highest point in the room, the Christmas tree, lights ablaze. Bluebell flew to a branch just below the angel, near the top.
Unfortunately, it was only about five feet from the top edge of the bookcase. Samantha made a one-eighty turning toward the tree, and Sampson gained speed from the other end. Both cats sprang in near unison.
Time seemed to move in slow motion. As I witnessed both my cats spread out like flying squirrels, paws extended to make their landing and claws around the partridge in my pear tree. The cats landed in a close one-two order, just as Bluebird took flight once again. The combined weight of twenty-six pounds, hitting the tree at a velocity just below the speed of sound, overwhelmed the little three-legged stand full of water holding the tree upright. As it went crashing to the ground, the two cats ‘abandoned ship’ just before the tree hit. Cats always land on their feet, and they hit the deck with paws in motion.
Bluebird flew into the kitchen area and, fortunately for him, chose a perch at the top of the stainless-steel fridge. The cats could not climb up that surface, though they tried. Samantha even leaped on a barstool to the island nearby, but it was too long of a jump for her to make. She tried anyhow and slid down the fridge door, then back to the previous perch.
For the moment, things quieted. Samantha, on the countertop, panting as her sides heaved in and out. Sampson was still on the floor, lunging up as high as five feet against the steel door. With nothing to grab, he continued to fall back down.
In the moment of opportunity, I grabbed Samantha from her position and dashed her to the laundry room, and shut the door. I raced back and gathered up the white leopard in both arms and whisked him away. He looked back to the fridge as I carried him. He extended a paw as if to say, “No, don’t take me away. I’ll catch that trophy for you, Marcie.” Tossed him in the laundry room and slammed the door on the two of them. Whew.
I looked at the shambles of my apartment—Christmas Eve in total disarray that resembled a war disaster scene. Little Bluebird was perched safely, and I had no idea how I’d catch him to put him back in the cage. So I called Bart, briefly explained what had happened, and told him to come help me, “Now.”
I gathered a deep breath. “I thought you said he couldn’t fly with clipped wings.”
“No, what I said was he needed to have his wings clipped so he wouldn’t be able to fly in case you forgot and left the cage door open.”