Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Color of Dawn

I stayed at a friend's house this past weekend and woke up to the sound of birds. They owned birds, kept in cages on the veranda. Brilliantly colored lovebirds, parakeets, cockatiels and finches were all making noise waking me up early. The house was locked up with metal grates on all the doors and windows. I was, in effect, caged as well. It was very quiet except for the birds, but as the sun rose and warmed the air, the wild birds came to visit. The two-story house in the next compound was painted a warm butterscotch yellow with melon orange trim, mint green shutters and window grates and lilac pipes. The shaded space of the balconies and porches were painted turquoise. The doors were painted orange. The bright colours of the house were muted in comparison to the riot of color from the birds, and flowers everywhere.

First to come were tiny little grey birds with long thin beaks and flippy tails that were long in proportion to their bodies. They are about the size of hummingbirds, but do not fly like them. Next to arrive were larger bright yellow birds, orioles, with black caps. Other even larger generic looking black and grey birds vied for footing on the tree branches and shrubs outside the windows.

The lush garden of hibiscus, cannas, palms, weeping trees, flowering maples and other tropical plants and vines attracted dragonflies and butterflies, flitting along on the breeze. Chickadees dared to enter the veranda to search for fallen seeds on the floor. A spotted brown dove arrived, but was deterred by the window grate. It flapped its wings hysterically, before finding a roost on a nearby tree.

Around nine AM, wallas starting shout-singing their wares down the quiet lanes. The parakeets emerged from their little ceramic pot house to preen their feathers. Music from a distant radio started playing Bollywood show tunes. At one point, there were 12 chickadees, wrens and sparrows between me and the caged birds, looking at me, looking for seeds, looking at me, looking for seeds, then jumping to the window grates to watch the birds in their cages. The wild birds dispersed as the caged ones grew more animated and loud.

The parakeets started getting jiggy with each other, rubbing their faces against each other. The finches stared to sing a rather tinny, robotic song. The lovebird chreeched regularly at this point. He was a riot of color, like a melted box of crayons. He kept trying to tip his water bowl over, which was bigger than he was. The cockatiel, who, when I first stepped out on the veranda, became quite upset, flexing her crest, jumping from roost to roost, dancing on the floor of her cage with her feathers splayed - she'd calmed down and sat still with her beady eyes watching me write. The lovebird did a few more spins before settling down. That's when the parakeets started getting a bit noisy.

At my place, I get more than my share of crows, which are larger than U.S. crows. They have interesting plumage, black with charcoal grey heads - quite striking. Plus I have at least two mating pairs of kites that spend a lot of time using my terrace as a lookout point. I've also had visits from smaller, jay sized black and white birds. They remind me of water birds, with extremely long legs in proportion to the body. They have crisp white bellies...

Suddenly, the wild birds flew away with a great flapping of wings and cacophony of whistles and the caged birds went stark still and silent. I took it as a reaction to my flipping the page in my book. Then I looked to my right to find that a beautiful feral cat had silently padded its way close to me and crouched two feet away. Her tawny coat had flecks of black. Her lime green eyes were slits ringed in black. Her tail, with rings of black, flitted back and forth and her butt twitched ready to pounce.

A head popped through the curtains at the door.

"Tea?" she asked.

I looked down. The cat had disappeared.

"Sure," I said. "Can I help?" I asked, as I rose from the chair. It was going to be a beautiful Sunday.

1 comment:

Tracy said...

such a beautiful post~it reads like something out of a novel! I loved picturing it all!
Thank You~

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