Let’s talk about childhood pets for a moment but first, what comes to mind when I say this word. Snoopy. Perhaps you see the beagle who bounces gleefully in the Peanuts series. I see a darling green and gold budgie that was one of my best friends growing up. Snoopy, whom I named after thinking Woodstock was too silly for a bird name, was always there for me – never fail. He loved to soar around my room, rest of my shoulder, crawl up beneath my chin and cuddle. He loved to play with his toys and had a fondness for bells. We had our own “call” – the moment I did it he would fly to me no matter where he was in the house. Once he escaped to the great outdoors and it was my call that got him back inside again.
My parents had dogs and cats but that little tiny bundle of happy was all mine. I was responsible for feeding, cage clean up and maintaining his water dish and ensuring his toys were in good shape including his cutterbone which I loved because I always thought it looked like the coolest little bird surfboard and I would daydream about taking him to the beach near our house to ride the waves on it. Silly kid but cute still. I still smell his feathers if I think hard and whenever I smell birdseed, even today which feels like a million years later, I think of my little bird with the very big personality.
After he died, which was so unnecessary (my mother decided to put him under the shower to wash him), I wasn’t the same for awhile. I was mad at my mother. Mad at life. My grades suffered, my heart — split in two. He was my first and last pet. After his death, I couldn’t imagine getting attached to another animal. I’ll never forget seeing him as he laid lifeless at the bottom of his cage. I took his limp little body out, placed him on a soft towel and tried my CPR moves – the ones I had learned in health class (of course that was ridiculous but I was a little girl). When nothing happened, I cried for so long that he was dry by the time I had composed myself enough to bury him. I then prepared a shoe box, included all of his favorite toys, wrapped him carefully in one of my favorite blankets I had used for my Barbie doll’s bed, and placed him inside closing the lid and knowing that was the last time I’d see him. I then rode my bike for 20 minutes down to the intercoastal waterway to bury him in my thinking spot, where I went when I needed to have peace and quiet. That is why today, whenever I see a parakeet, a sweet little budgie of any color, I feel warm and happy inside though obviously mixed with sadness. I think of my little feathered friend. And then I think about if I should get a pet again someday.
Now that you have some history, and thanks for listening to my sad story, perhaps you know why this artists’ work touched my heart this morning. Isn’t art supposed to evoke emotion? Stefan Gevers captures the personality of birds so well I think. And the colors are vibrant and joyful. Born in The Netherlands, Stefan lives in Melbourne, Australia where he creates gorgeous art and hosts workshops. I found out about Stefan from the blog Studio Home here thanks to a reader, Jay, who highlighted this site just today.
Did you ever have a childhood pet? What kind was it? What did you call it? Did you feel then as though you had the most special relationship in the world? As I begin to think about my baby growing up and eventually wanting a pet of his own I wonder if I should get him something that tends to have a longer life span or a shorter one. Any thoughts?
(photos: stefan gevers)