Thursday, February 4, 2010

Singing Praises

As I write this morning, I am being serenaded with a delightful, quiet solo performed by my tiny red canary, Cleveland. Actually, his full title is Cleveland Brown, because he's bright orange and has a slash of brown over his right eye. I couldn't resist naming him after my favorite football team, since he already sports their colors!

Cleveland's singing is profoundly sweet to me, mostly because we were recently without it for an extended period of time. When I first brought him home from The Bird Store in Orlando, FL, he was only a few months old. The shop keeper assured me that he had, in fact, performed a little trilling earlier that day, proving he was male (females don't have the capacity to sing) and should be serenading us "full force" in only a matter of days. I set up his cage near a sunny window in our home and waited excitedly for the concert to begin. Begin, he did! He'd go through several different tunes, some melodic, involving intricate notes, others just a simple trill, alternating between two octaves. All of them were loud and lovely.

He'd go all day long. From the moment we removed his cage cover to the time I'd place it back on in the evening, Cleveland sang. In fact, he sang so much, I began not even to notice it any more. Guests in my home would interrupt our conversations and say, "Wow, that's really pretty!" pointing in the direction of his cage. It would take me a minute to figure out they were referring to Cleveland's song, because I hadn't really been hearing it. It's as if his trills became "white noise" to me.

Then came Alan's promotion last year and our subsequent move up North. Since we had to make the trip with both our cars from Orlando, Alan drove the Infiniti with Trixie on board, I followed behind in my little yellow Volkswagon Beetle, carrying Cleveland in his cage, and also our cockatiel, Vegas, in hers (Yeah, she's named after a city, too. But hers is a different story, I'll tell that one another time!!). Both birds, obviously, were quite nervous at the beginning of the trip, but they seemed to settle down as the drive progressed and accepted their new surroundings.

When we finally arrived at our new home and began unpacking, I made sure once again to place both cages in a sunny, warm location that seemed ideal. I adequately hooked them up with food and water and continued with the unloading. I was so overwhelmed with boxes and bubble wrap and dishes, it took me a few days to realize something...Cleveland wasn't singing. I approached his cage to check on him, he seemed happy enough, eating and hopping around like normal. Just no singing. I moved his cage to a different spot so he could view the wild birds in the backyard, like he did at our old house. "That'll get him going," I thought. Still, nothing.

I considered taking him to a vet, but then I'd imagine the conversation I'd have with said vet: "I don't know. He just seems...depressed, you know?" So, discouraged, I'd drop the whole thing. I bought a "Canary Song Instructional" CD, claiming to be able to "jump start" your bird into singing along. Cleveland would join the CD for the first thirty seconds or so, then lose interest. Clearly, Cleveland just wasn't "feelin' it."

Then one morning, for no particular reason, Cleveland began to trill. It was very quiet and tentative, but it was definitely singing! Alan lunged for the TV remote, lowered the volume, and we both sat frozen, not wanting to distract our tiny prodigal Pavarotti. It was so soft and sweet, like he was practicing. I couldn't believe how much I missed it. It's been only a few weeks since that morning, and he's still not back to full volume, but there is definitely hope yet for our little songbird!

But this episode has taught me a valuable lesson. When Cleveland was loudly and confidently trilling everyday, I barely noticed anymore. It was only when he was silent that I appreciated how beautiful his singing was. It's made me wonder, how many other instances in my daily life have I under-appreciated a kindness or an extra effort being given to me? People like the kind teenage boy who bagged my groceries with extra care or the bank teller at the drive thru window who saw Trixie in the car and sent a milkbone through the tube along with my deposit receipt. Did I make them feel appreciated for their extra effort?

You know, I'm always the first one to fire-off a strongly worded letter to the management whenever I have a bad experience at a shop or restaurant. I rarely do the same when the opposite is true. Cleveland's singing today has prompted me to decide to change all that, starting now:

I want to let YOU know, you who have taken the time to visit this site and read my words written here, that I greatly, greatly appreciate it. I appreciate the comments you leave and your encouraging words that make me want to try harder. I appreciate you for clicking the "follow" button and making me feel, at long last, POPULAR! Thank you, from the bottom of my heart!

Wow! That felt great! Makes me feel like singing! Think I'll go hum Cleveland a tune, see if we can get a good duet going. With any luck, maybe I'll get him to drown me out!!

Thanks for Reading!!

25 comments:

THE OLD GEEZER said...

My mother in law always wanted a canary.
One Christmas I promised to get her one but sad to say she died before I could fulfill my promise.

Cleveland the Canary. What a great name!

God bless you my new cyberspace friend, Ron

JenJen said...

heh. Funny I know exactly what you mean by finally feeling popular. ha.

Margaret (Peggy or Peg too) said...

Great Story.

I remember being a kid and my father teaching me about how to treat people. It was a constant that was ingrained in me from the time I was at least 4 yrs old. So when you said that you will try to say something nice to the banker or the bagger at the grocery store you will find that you get as much from this as you give.

I once was told that I made someones day and she grabbed my hand as she told me. I thought she was going to cry. I did so very little for this stranger woman. But it made me feel so good and I remembered my father telling me that doing something nice for someone ends up making you feel a helluva lot better than them!

And then on other days I just get on my blog and bitch like I did today....tee hee

KathyB said...

Oh, I'm so thrilled that he is singing again! Or at least quietly trilling. Yay! Great piece, Joan - as always. :)

Kellyansapansa said...

What a fantastic post, with a great message. You have written this so well - I'm very jealous of your fantastic writing style. You made me want to have my own Cleveland!

Yankee Girl said...

Last weekend my husband and I heard birds chirping in the morning and it was such a wonderful sound. In the spring and summer I forget to take the time to listen to them, but in the dead of winter it is a beautiful noise. I must remember to appreciate it in the spring.

Excellent post and thanks for following! Following you now too!

Matthew said...

Really pretty bird. They do budgies over here a lot - and it's strange because coming from the UK, only old ladies seem to have budgies.

Getting My Words Out said...

Thank you for the reminder to pay attention!! Great post, as usual!! :D

Picture Imperfect said...

This is so sweet! I hope that Cleveland is back to his trill-y self very soon! He probably just had to adjust to his new surroundings.

Thank you for the reminder to pay attention to things like this! Today when I get home from work and the pets are instantly ON me nagging for attention, I think I'll just crash on the floor and give them some instead of getting settled first. Probably they'll think I'm crazy but I'm ok with that. ;o)

Aurora said...

I had a canary once, but managed to run it over.

blueviolet said...

We don't appreciate what we have until we don't have it! You are absolutely right!

CentFla said...

That's a good one honey. You should post the pic of Cleveland when he was molting and looked like Billy Idol...

Aurora, how does one run over an animal that can fly? Orbitz hovercraft? That's sad...

Erin said...

Well, I appreciate YOU for sharing your stories. I always enjoy them, and feel inspired.

Heatherlyn said...

What a cool post! I'm glad he started to sing again. I wonder what he was thinking the whole time? He's a really beautiful color orange.

You are right that sometimes we appreciate things the most when we have lost them for a while. Wouldn't it be so much nicer just to be able to recognize all our blessings in the first place? :)

Holly said...

I really enjoyed that post...it was lovely! I was all set up thinking about a bird comment, and then you so nicely tied into something so much bigger. I agree with you about under appreciating kindness, love, friendship, anything almost. I actually have been noticing this recently, so when someone does do something, I try to make sure and acknowledge it. I clicked the follow button too!
Holly @ 504 Main

lifeshighway said...

I love the beautiful little Cleveland. We all should take a very moments to appreciate spots of beauty in our lives. So happy for you that he has rediscovered his song.

Stacie said...

Great post! Thanks for the comment on mine as well, seeing the title of yours definitely made my morning! I've added you to my blog list as well, looking forward to getting to know you better!

"And so our stories go..." said...

what a cute bird. I love birds singing. I'm listening to mourning doves right now.
Mary

Kellyansapansa said...

PS - I have something for you at my blog
http://kellyansapansa.blogspot.com/2010/02/blog-love.html

mydogumentary said...

That's a sweet story and it does certainly make you think! Cleveland is beautiful by the way!

Richard @ The Bewildered Brit said...

What a lovely story! I hope Cleveland is back to full on Pavarotti soon!

You're absolutely right about not underappreciating other people (or birds), too. :)

Miss Go Lightly said...

Ooh what a darling little canary! and what a wonderful story! Thank you for you for stopping by my blog and for your comments I am happy to read that you enjoyed the picture :)

kim Clayton said...

You have a very positive and unique view on subjects. I love reading your blog. Glad I found it cause you found me first........look forward to your future blogs.

Lynne said...

You have a bird named after the Cleveland Browns and I have a dog (KC) named after the Kansas City Chiefs. How funny is that?

Cleveland is beautiful, by the way - your bird, not the city, although I'm sure it's nice too. Never been there.

And! And, get this! I used to have a cockatiel. His name was Rico. His full name was was Ronrico, after a kind of rum. I loved him. He whistled the Star Spangled Banner; the song from Annie, The Sun Will Come Out Tommorrow; our family whistle ("get your butt over here now"...that one) and a couple others. He even said his name "Rico." Awww, all this reminiscing is making me miss him.

Roberta said...

Thank you for the reminder to show appreciation for the "little things." I am blessed to work with people who often tell me how much they appreciate my work, and I know it feels good to hear it. I need to be more intentional about passing on that good feeling to others... starting today!

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