Spirit and Pets
Home at last! We had just moved into our little cottage in the woods, and knew it was time to bring home a songbird. When we arrived at the pet shop and saw him look us straight in the eye, as if to say "here I am". We knew, without doubt, which canary was leaving with us.
As the sun rose each morning, so did the little bird, announcing his daily awakening with a joyfully incessant "PEEP, PEE-EEP, PEEP!" Those of us who were night owls could usually roll over and go back to sleep, altering that call as someone else's morning alarm clock. But for me, it was a sort of revelry, a call alongside the birds to morning's glory and a thank you to Spirit for rebirth with the sun. For 14 years, the sunrise was "noted" by a little canary that spent his days amidst the entire household and his nights in a bedroom alongside one of our dearly beloved brothers. We called our winged friend "Tweeters" and "Peeps", for that is what he called himself.
Living with Peeps as he progressed through time was a wondrous experience. As with any child, we greatly enjoyed his many firsts; the first time he "tuned up" and let out his songs in perfect tune with Beethoven, filling every corner of the house with passion. There was the first time he saw shaving cream on someone's face and he wildly giggled and hopped around his house as if to say "that's the most ridiculous thing I've ever seen". There was the first time he let you pick him up, hold him, and kiss his beak; the first time he flew around the upstairs and then downstairs to find you all by himself. How he loved the game of "hide and seek", disappearing in plain view, watching you look for him while not giving a clue that he was right there before your very eyes, snickering to himself. There was the first time he let you place him on your head and walk or dance around the house, sliding down the side of your face, tickling you with his tiny feet before flittering back up on top again. He always courteously flew off your head the moment nature called, never leaving you with unwanted surprises, such a gentleman!
Time ushered us along, and some very profound experiences came with Tweeter's maturity. He demonstrated a remarkable skill that I have never before observed amongst birds. While gazing in his mirror in some of his deepest meditation, Tweeters was able to literally "become" other birds, holding their postures in very clear imitation of their looks and/or behavior. Suddenly, one might observe a crouched over posture, with an extended beak and be reminded of a wild hawk. On observation outdoors, the Blue Jays indeed then started calling to the birds nearby to be aware of an impending predator. One might see him with huge dilated eyes and a big fluffy neck and one would see an owl instead of a Canary in the cage. That very night one would hear the call of the Great Barred Owl, waking one up with his loud "WHO COOKS FOR YOU, WHO COOKS FOR YOU," a call that verified what Peeps had "showed" you earlier that night! On another occasion, one might see Peeps all fluffed and puffed out like a Mourning Dove. Sure enough, if one went over to a window, there was a Mourning Dove to verify this experience. Numerous times, we saw him "posture" a gentle Tufted Titmouse or tiny rounded Chickadee, only to see these birds out in the front yard. It was as though he knew who in the bird world was around, even without being near any windows. Perhaps he could hear them when we could not, but it was his actual "posturing" of them that held our intrigue.
Every May, Peeps was the one to tell us when to put out the Hummingbird sugar water, days before any of us saw one, for he would literally "become" the Hummingbird buzzing around in his house at a pace far faster than his usual movement. We wondered if other birds do this posturing as well, although we've never seen or heard of it before. Was he a tantric master for his species? Do any other animals do this? How much can we really know about the souls of our bird and animal companions here on earth, their roles, and their specializations?
Peeps was not without social contact with birds of other species, some for whom he felt an affinity, some for whom he took on a nurturing role, and some with whom he was simply indifferent. He was particularly fond of the visits of a little bird, ZoŽ, a Zebra Finch who came to visit with friends. He and ZoŽ would sit in their cages, side by side, meeting and calling to each other, echoing the friendship we shared with the friends who brought him over for the visit. Once, we brought home a little sparrow whose mother had left him, and Peeps tried to show him how to eat, sitting comfortably with this little bird right in his house. Peeps initiated conversation, calling as he did to the sun in the morning with his "Pee-eeps! Pee-eeps!" He enjoyed the presence of this little one, although this little one did not survive the next day. On another occasion, we brought home a wild bird, a Cedar Waxwing with an injured wing that could not fly. We left them alone together in a room, to find them together later, standing in front of a mirror on the floor away from the cage. It was as though Peeps had led the waxwing over to the mirror to explain his injury to him, telepathically and visually. Then, another bird came into our lives. It was a sky blue budgie, about 4 months old, an escapee that was tapping at our mead winery window. A passerby brought him into our shop to tell us this bird wanted to go home with us. We put him in alongside Peeps, but he was too rambunctious and large, wanting to nibble at the tail and play roughly with the canary that we could now see was simply too old to be with this young bird. So we went and got a separate house for our new arrival, to respect the needs of our dearly beloved Tweeters. The young budgie was a mimic and imitated every sound that Peeps would make. When we left the doors of their respective houses open so that they could come and go at will, the budgie named "Happy Bird" would pull the old "B&E" routine, without hesitation, wiggling and walking his way right into Peep's house just to chase his tail. Peeps would quietly fly out of his house, but we could now clearly see he was aging, and knew he needed his space. So we put Happy Bird in lock-up every time we left Peep's doorway unblocked, for we wanted him to have his well deserved peace and freedom to come and go at will. But he was aging, and stopped leaving his house. We blocked his doorway with a small black book, Shakespeare's "As You Like It", so that Hap's door could be opened and he could get around without getting into Peep's space. It worked and Happy was limited to walking all around Peep's roof and walls from the outside.
One morning, the brother with whom Peeps shared a bedroom announced that Peeps had told him that he would soon "fly back to the sun". Peeps appeared in my dreams, and told me he wanted a nest of silk, and not of straw. He was preparing us. Nature was slowing down for him. One day, I looked down into his house and there was a bright red light flashing all around;Öit was red, the color of survival, and I heard what Peeps was saying. He'd just given me the gift of aura vision, for this was my sharpest experience ever of such, and I thanked him. Later that day, we saw that Peeps was having difficulty flying up and landing to his food dish on the upper perch. It appeared he was losing his vision. We lowered his food dish to the bottom of his house, where it would be easier for him. The next morning there was no "Ode to Joy" sung to the sun for the first time ever since we had him. He looked very frail, but was still eating. It was our last day with him, for during the night he "flew back to the sun", as he told us he would do. We held him and said our "Thank You's" and "Good-byes". We wrapped him in the silk-like cover, which was draped over his house at night, and buried him. He'd given us nothing but joy throughout our entire knowing of him. He'd left us with beautiful memories and a never-ending song, for I can still hear the "maestro" singing full force in my thoughts. How it hurt to say goodbye, but we can only be grateful for fourteen years of one of the greatest joys we have ever known, reinforcing that old adage, "Better to have loved and lost, than never to have loved at all".