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Posts Tagged ‘Tova Gabrielle’

New Art by Tova Gabrielle

Tuesday, March 9th, 2010

A Brief Resurrection, part 3 of 3 by Tova Gabrielle

Monday, November 30th, 2009

This is an endearing tale of a bird that had a soul. For us it is about love and how life demands both acceptance and surrender.

A Brief Resurrection, last part

We no sooner got there than, to our astonishment, she lifted her head. “My God, She’s alive!” I called out, quickly scooping her up. We frantically called information to find a vet and discovered an animal hospital that was open all night. It was an hour away. The vet told us that she would most likely die within hours. I looked down into her face and thought, oddly, of a lion.

In a last ditch effort, he gave her an injection of steroids to reduce the swelling in her head. At our insistence, he returned her to us, warning us that birds can’t be expected to survive head traumas. Jim and I sensed that if anything was keeping her alive it was our connection with her. Like a string, our mutual affection seemed to be tugging her in, as if she were a kite, being pulled against winds imminent death.

Birds are ingenious at “keeping things light”. Back home, in my bedroom, she had an indescribably serene “smile” on her face, as she lay, breathing shallowly, upon my chest. “Clydo, we love you! What a bird! Stay with us! You can do it!” we begged.

Tonight, lamentably, there were to be no ardent protests; only acquiescent grunts when we were naming Clyde’s closest people. When I named Gershon, she grunted louder. And at the mention of my son, I could feel her heartbeat increase and felt a slight shiver pass through her. All night, she lay on my chest with a blissful look that transcended all physical constraints. Her good nature emanated through her breathing and a deep peace filled the room as she rested, sometimes with eyes semi-open and other times closed. We were begging her to stay with it, not to go, when it hit me that perhaps it was selfish to wish this on her. What did she want?

It is a fact that when a storm is approaching, eagles will sense it and perch on the highest branches they can find. There, they allow increasing winds to help lift them high above the dark clouds. They soar above the storm, returning to Earth only after it passes.

As the dark clouds of our grief had gathered, Clyde seemed to be patiently waiting out our storm in a transcendent state that soothed our resistance to her final flight.

During that night we reasoned: Clearly, she could not remain in that twisted body… Wasn’t it enough to have these last hours together with her…She seemed to be gliding into some invisible expansion of space. Sensing her gentle rapture, we felt blessed, and finally even resolved. During the night, our dread had changed to acceptance.

At 7 A.M. I opened my eyes to see Clyde lifting her head from my chest, opening both eyes wide, and looking right at me. I thought, “My God, she’s recovered!” as she flapped her wins once–hard. And then just as suddenly her body stiffened. I knew beyond any shadow of doubt that she was gone.

What remained was no longer beautiful. Her mouth was open and I could see blood. I turned to Jim to tell him she had just died but he was not listening— not to me, anyway. Instead he was having a vision of Clyde: having flown out of her lifeless body with that one final flap of her wings, she took off like a shot. Then, returning briefly, he watched as she joyously circled our heads, before taking off for good.

The End


A Brief Resurrection, part 2 of 3 by Tova Gabrielle

Tuesday, November 24th, 2009

This is an endearing tale of a bird that had a soul. For us it is about love and how life demands both acceptance and surrender.

A Brief Resurrection, part 2

As people became scarce in my life, I thanked Clyde for helping me to sort out who my “real” friends were, and continued accommodating and denying. How could I overlook that my child was a genius? Clyde, along with her sidekick, Timmy the male Goffins Cockatoo, learned to go into and stay in the trees behind my house, and to fly in for dinner and warmth at night.

When I would be gone, Timmy became an expert at picking locks. He would escape the aviary and proceed on his mission of freeing her from her cage. (Goffins are known to become dangerously aggressive if caged together; although, in wider expanses, they will get along fine, as Clyde and Timmy did in the trees.) I stopped putting Clyde in the aviary when I observed that she would approach Timmy sexually and then, when he’d reject her, she try killing him.

I’d return home to find dishes knocked over, flowers eaten, and banisters chewed. That was when I began whispering to my family about selling her. Whispering because, when I spoke of such horrors, Clyde turned her back and ignored me for a while.

Ultimately, Clyde bypassed reasoning and got to my heart. From turning summersaults on her stand, to perching on my head and combing my hair with her beak, she tried her best to help. Her favorite favor was helping sort laundry, especially socks: jumping into my drawers and throwing them on the floor.

Well, I guess a supernatural bird like Clyde couldn’t go on like that forever, nor could I….

A breeder had warned me long ago that when you work with birds you are working with wild animals. Unlike cats and dogs, they are not acclimated to domesticity. He said, “sooner or later, you’re going to lose one.” We’ve only been working with birds for two decades at most.

“You just can’t anticipate all the things that can go wrong.”

Tragically, the breeder’s words were to come true…. Clyde, who got into everything, died from a freak household accident when a vase fell on her in the confusion of moving….

Yet, even at death’s door she communicated a boundless affection:

After her vital functions had apparently quit, I’d wrapped her in my dark green wool poncho and carried her out to the woods behind my house. I placed her gently, with wings spread and head down, covering her lightly with leaves so I could spot her. I’d return when my grief subsided, along with my partner Jim, and give her a proper burial.

An hour or 2 later, Jim and I donned a flashlight and climbed the pine needle laden hill on which she lay, but we could not find her. We were calling to her, saying Clyde, we love you, Clyde we are sorry,” when I finally spotted the white of her tail, yelling to Jim, “Over here!”

To be continued next week…


A brief resurrection, part 1 of 3 by Tova Gabrielle

Thursday, November 12th, 2009

This is an endearing tale of a bird that had a soul. For us it is about love and how life demands both acceptance and surrender.

When folks in the Pioneer Valley used to see me strolling down Pleasant Street with a white bird perched happily on my right shoulder, they would do double takes or stop.

Clyde would raise her crest, fluff out her feathers, and give a light-hearted, “Hi Clyde!” and they would laugh, look surprised, or say “Hi Clyde!” back.

But Then the FAQ’s would inevitably start up…. When faced with the conundrum of what to say to a human, donning a bird (or, what to say to a bird, with a human underfoot) people seem to be at a loss after the introduction.

“Is that your bird?”
“No, I’m her human.”
“Can she think?” “Does she feel?”
“I don’t know, why don’t you ask her?”
“Is that bird real?”
Deadpan, “NO.” or, “Are YOU?”

OK; so maybe you have to be another pet-co-dependent to understand why I would get uppity.

Well, for one thing, I can attest to the findings that parrots understand and use language appropriately. And they are extraordinarily attuned to their environment and the feelings of people and animals around them. For another thing, I didn’t want Clyde to be any more “othered” than she’d been during her former life behind bars: before I’d rescued her, she’d done 20 years for the crime of being wild.

Once Clyde burst into my life, she began a cute but devastating take-over. Yet I simply couldn’t pass her on to someone who would again abandon her. So, being both smitten and anxious, like anyone newly involved, I opted for the well-worn path of denial.

Clyde played her part in this dysfunctional relationship. As “Frog Princess”, she demanded (and was granted) a seat by my plate and an occasional spot beneath my bed-covers.

And, like most couples, we began having problems– particularly when I refused certain of her affections. First offense involved my rejecting her efforts to feed me. In avian social morays, regurgitating into your beloved’s mouth is a high honor

Besides being a “hopeless romantic”, Clyde was an egregious entertainer. Once, Gershon, an actor friend who Clyde sometimes let me “borrow”, included her in a comic rendition of Elton John’s, “Crocodile Rock”. For “Cockatoo Rock,” Gershon dressed in feather boas and danced as he sang. Clyde perched on his shoulder and strutted, talked and turned in accordance.

When the act ended, Clyde proceeded to ‘bar-hop’: bounding up and down the counter and onto the welcoming shoulders of the line of people, seated there, punctuating each pounce with a victorious little squawk.

Overall, Clyde was a hit–although some people nearly spilled their drinks.

However, there is always someone who is afraid of wild winged beings, be they angels or birds (and as far as I’m concerned, there is not much difference). And when such a soul cried out drunkenly, “Oh no, a bird!” I just couldn’t resist cracking, “It’s OK, I can protect her from you!”

Of course, my attitude didn’t set a good example to Clyde, who always tried to insure that people knew she was an “insider. If ignored, she’d fly to the highest place possible, puff out her chest, spread her wings widely, and let out a screech that was meant to travel a mile in her native Australian rainforest. “I am Queen and if you don’t show reverence, I’ll have you for dinner!”

My mother, who eventually stopped visiting, wouldn’t cow-tow, but would cover her ears, wince, and complain, “She’s so RUDE!” Most visitors didn’t usually return to my home. Nor did they care, when I’d explain miserably that Clyde simply wanted to be included. They didn’t feel guilty when I’d point out that they’d failed to return her greeting of “Hi Clyde”. They didn’t repent after learning that my “child” was as needing and deserving of love as any developing two-year-old. (However, parrots stay ‘two’ for as much as 80 long years. Of course I left that tidbit out.)

They turned to stone when I tried explaining that she didn’t know that screaming didn’t endear people to her.

To be continued next week