Photo by Sheila Fitzgerald
Trees, chickens and geese. These were my friends. I loved them, but there was something of a communication barrier. The trees were great listeners, and happy to cradle me in their arms all day, but they said very little. The farm fowl were frequently in a fowl mood (sorry). I was fascinated with insects, but they were indifferent to me. Mice were fraidy cats, or rather afraid of the many cats that called Frieda’s Magical Garden home.
I was almost five and needed someone to play with. For a while, I hung out with a horny toad, but after a month or two he disappeared. I suppose he’d met a sweet horny lizard girl and moved away to start a family (they grow up so fast).
My baby sitter Frieda raised and sold parakeets. They lived in big walk-in cage behind her house. I’d let myself in and stick out my arms, hoping they’d land on me and nibble affectionately at my ears. But they mostly just want out.
So I set them free!
I watched with delight as half of Frieda’s 200 or so parakeets flew out the door and into the orange grove behind the house. It felt good. I was the Great Liberator of Keetkind!
Frieda didn’t agree. That was the only time I recall ever hearing her yell. Over the next few days, she and her husband Alfred plucked most of the compliant critters out of the trees and returned them to their home, where Good Ol’ Frieda cared for them and gave them three square trays of seeds a day.
Then I found two feral ranch cats wandering about in the unplanted field. They were fresh out of kittendom like me, but didn’t immediately see me as a kindred soul.
So I captured them and trapped them under a milk basket on Frieda’s front porch, putting a brick on top for good measure. When Mom came to pick me up I insisted they’d “followed me home.” So that night, she and Dad agreed to let me keep my furry new black and grey friends. I gave them the wildly inventive names of “Blackie” and “Greyie.”
Blackie and Greyie liked to eat. That was pretty much it. And then, a month later, they ran away. What can you say? The gypsy life was in their blood.
Once again I had no friends, or at least not the interactive type. Then, a few months later, I spotted a weasel in our back yard. No, it wasn’t my first friend.
But it led me to her.
My Real Memoir is a series. To read the next one, click here.