Birds of a Feather

“Your father has a hummingbird in the freezer for you,” I said to my artist son, James in church yesterday as we settled into our chairs.

“Is he dead?” asked my daughter, Miranda.

“Of course, silly,” I said.

“He smashed into the window, right?” Miranda said.

“I have a hawk in my freezer,” said James. “For when I have time to draw it.”

“See, it runs in the family, ” I said.

“One of our neighbors, who says he’s a minister in the Universal Church, admitted he kept a pelican and other birds in his freezer,” said James. “You know, for when he needs a feather for a ceremony.”

Miranda rolled her eyes. My husband, Alf shook his head and I laughed.

It takes all kinds.

I wasn’t sure which kind we were though.

It reminded me of an incident when I was a child in Mexico. My family and I went on holiday to the beach and left our parakeet, Perry with Martina, the housekeeper. When we returned home she greeted us and motioned for us to come into the kitchen. Martina opened the freezer door of the refrigerator, where we kept the ice cubes and ice cream, and extracted Perry in a plastic bag. She pulled him out for us to see. His little white and turquoise body was rigid, his eyes were closed, and his feet were curled up. She explained he had died while we were away. Pitched forward and fell to the floor of his cage. If she had left him there, he would have turned into a heap of feathers and bones by the time we got back. So she stuck him in the freezer.

I didn’t believe her story. I just knew she had killed him. Out of jealousy.

Calvin says, “If I found a dead bird on the ground, I’d stick my nose deep into its chest and breathe bird into my memory bank.”