Many would say that a bird in a cage is a diminished and unhappy bird. They’ve never carefully watched a canary in a cage.


A pair of canaries listening to music in adjacent cages will sing and sing and sing because they clearly understand that to be in flight by song can be even richer than to be in flight by geography. Very often we’ve been struck by our golden finches, Carlito and Pedro, delighting in improvising on a tune, be it rock, jazz, classical or country/western, and then singing along with (or against) each other.



This frisky joy has, for some time now, been intermittently clouded by downturns of Carley’s health. While the outer limit (seldom achieved) of a canary’s life is 10, Carley had entered his 13th year of producing the purest and most vigorous tones, never failing to leave us in awe. He died yesterday in a typically joyous but also heartbreaking way. He had had one of his episodes of bleeding from a foot and we could see that this time applying Bag Balm was not going to lead to yet another of his startling recoveries. While holding him I played for him a disc being a recent favorite, and on hearing the treasured sounds of Patsy Cline he fluttered his wings for the last time, leaving us with an expected but bewildering loss.



Where, in fact, would we ever see such consistent love of life? As I held him in those now-priceless moments, with him hemorrhaging and in pain, he nipped my hand repeatedly with a strong piercing touch, as if to say, “This is how to say good-bye.” And I felt that I was being given a final gift from him.



I want to try to sustain that last touch and see how many memories spring up. When he was a spring chick, he would delight in showing to his sister, Solita, and elderly Juanito, how loud he could sing, overshadowing his friends. Sure, there was that rough side of his wildness; but, in his determination to let his song be heard, there was joy that he could bring to the world something essential. Whenever there was a gathering of friends including poster clients, he and his male sidekick at the time would catch the excitement and good humor coming forth, and they’d sing as loud as they could to be part of the delight, Carley’s overriding song letting us know that there are others in the room who consider themselves partners in the adventure. An appetite for adventure; and an appetite for good food. From early morning into the evening, he and his friend at the moment would devour seeds, veggies, fruit, bits of toast and frozen egg yolk.



When Carley was no longer able to fly and hold on to his perch, he’d sit and move about on the floor, leaving Pedro the more visible presence, while his song would keep him involved and affecting. Here are remembered favorite musical  moments he would open his heart to: Mozart piano concertos; Keith Urban; Arnold Bax; The Nutcracker; Stevie Ray Vaughn; Songs of the Auvergne.



Carley’s sky, April 27, 2017



Flowers for our  Carley from dear friends!

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