Saturday, February 28, 2009

Cordon Noir

I'm off in a minute on the trek, albeit quite short, back to Winedale. Yesterday was the last test and I feel like midterms are over. Remember?

Anyway, I got the filthy car washed afterward. (Brilliant material, here, no?) Then I went to a shop where a friend said I could find dust ruffles (for beds) that don't require lifting the mattress. The shop was Indulge on Saint Street. (Isn't that a lovely juxtaposition of names? Doesn't a shop called "Indulge" just flick your wicket in our current economic situation?) Now, if it sold chocolate instead of bedding...

But I digress. (I do have a point in here somewhere...)

In the entry of the shop, there is a large antique wicker birdcage with two birds in it. Cordon Bleu Finches. I looked them up on the internet, but the picture in no way does justice to the beauty of these little birds. They have red bills like jewels, and for the most part their plumage is bright blue. Naturally I spoke to them, and they seemed to respond (anthropomorphic of me, I know).

One started elevating himself to the top of the cage before returning to the perch beside his companion. (The people in the store think they're sisters, but I think they're both males.) When he returned to the perch he turned his head so his bill pointed straight up. Then he elevated himself, helicopter-style, once more. And repeated the bill-point. Never before have I seen a bird do that, but then I rarely see caged birds, right?

I awoke in the middle of the night and the thought came to me: those little birds never see the sky.

That upset me considerably for quite a while.They're natives of Africa, which I imagine they've never seen either.

What kind of life is it for a bird, to live in a cage with a companion of the same sex, never to fly in freedom? Just thinking of it makes me both angry and sad. What do you all think?


jinksy said...

To keep any bird in a cage is cruel, aviaries are bad enough but tiny cages are a no no. The whole essence of a bird is flight, or should be.

aliceinparis said...

I do feel sad but then on the other hand, they get regular meals, they are never out in the cold rain or buffeted by harsh winds, if sick they are cared for, they have a companion and probably toys. I wonder if they get to fly around the shop occasionally. There is always a trade off.

sizzie said...

I see your point. This thought has many variables...which is why I am bad at test taking (from your earlier post...different kind of tests but still...) If the birds had been born and raised in cages, they might feel more comfortable, safe and protected where they are now. And being inside, so they cannot see the sky might be preferable to being taunted by it, if kept outside. There are no cats within the cage, so their life should be longer, if not happier. But, yes, since we know the freedom they do not, then from our perspective their life is sad. I have heard that we don't miss what we have never had, and that, I think, speaks of a caged bird as much as anything else.

I hope all goes well with you.

Sydney said...

I have been there and seen those birds -- having first discovered it by walking from that divine little slice of Paris (to me) called Tiny Boxwood next door.

I didn't think at the time about their never seeing the sky. And I would just say that that IS disturbing.

I think that about the wild birds that we rehab but who can't go back into the wild. I thin they can't fly again, or soar, they can never mate or just sit in a tree with the wind and the sun.

But then I realize, that here they also never go without food and medical care, and they are free from being hunted or terrified by predators. And they live far longer lives in captivity. It helps a little, but who knows. DOES that help?

I checked in to see if you had test results back. Glad they're done for now and you are back to your writing paradise. Pls let us know when you do...

Sydney said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bdogs said...

I've heard big things about Tiny Boxwood's chocolate chip cookies. Also, there's a sign in front saying they're open for dinner, now.

Alas, no test results yet...

You're right that there's always a tradeoff, and that you don't miss what you never had, except some people at any rate do possess an inchoate longing.

carl said...

Found at:

Paul Laurence Dunbar (1872-1906)

I KNOW what the caged bird feels, alas!
When the sun is bright on the upland slopes;
When the wind stirs soft through the springing grass,
And the river flows like a stream of glass;
When the first bird sings and the first bud opes,
And the faint perfume from its chalice steals —
I know what the caged bird feels!

I know why the caged bird beats his wing
Till its blood is red on the cruel bars;
For he must fly back to his perch and cling
When he fain would be on the bough a-swing;
And a pain still throbs in the old, old scars
And they pulse again with a keener sting —
I know why he beats his wing!

I know why the caged bird sings, ah me,
When his wing is bruised and his bosom sore,—
When he beats his bars and he would be free;
It is not a carol of joy or glee,
But a prayer that he sends from his heart's deep core,
But a plea, that upward to Heaven he flings —
I know why the caged bird sings!

The above poem was published in Lyrics of the Hearthside by Dodd, Mead and Company in 1899. It was this poem that inspired the title to Maya Angelou's autobiography I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings.