Alexander and Freaktail

I was lucky today in the garden.

The male Coop was in the yard again, as he has been most days this week. He’s quite easy to tell from his mate, as he is  a great deal smaller and also more outspoken. She lurks, he squawks. He’s also more timid around me; I can’t ever get close enough to him to take a photo. Today, fossicking around in my studio room, I found a banded tail feather from one of the two of them; we picked it up under the pine tree last winter. Holding it, I felt close to them. I doubt that they feel close to me.

I also saw Alexander, looking fine, curious, friendly and healthy. Here he is lurking under a mandevilla leaf, in Eustace’s little garden by the wall. Eustace is our limequat tree; he had a rough go getting established and in the end, although he was listed as a full sun tree for Tucson, he ended up under a shade sail. The mandevilla has tucked itself neatly under the Snicketsuckle and the new jasmine, and I must admit that I have the utterly misguided conviction that it will survive the winter.


Alexander is unmistakeable, because of his tail (lost as a lad, with a replacement grown in quite distinctively) but also because of his curious nature. His purple markings are so dark now as to be almost black, and he is fat, strong, and much bigger than he was at the start of summer.

The best news of all is that joy of joys, Freaktail is back, and he is all grown up into a freaky adult male cardinal. I can’t be sure, of course. But he was splotchy, like no other cardinal I’ve ever seen, and he vocalized just the same way, and was just as much of a goofball, trying to sit on tiny little twigs, falling over, hanging upside down. I was overjoyed to see him, coming in as he always did at the very end of twilight, avoiding his irascible father. The Baron chases all of his sons away; it’s just how it works. But he puts an extra spin on it, rude, aggressive. I can’t help it, though, I am a softie for red birds and no matter how rude the Red Baron is, I still love him better than any dove or pigeon.

Orangelina has been spotted in past days by Dustin, but I haven’t seen her in a week.  It’s still unclear what her situation is; she still has the egg-shaped lump on her side. Dustin said that last week she looked terrible, but then later she was frisking around eating ants as if she hadn’t a care in the world. It troubles me a bit that Alexander was in her space today- Eustace’s garden is her paradise, while Alexander lives near the backwash fountain. What was he doing in there, I wonder?

The affairs of lizards preoccupy me; I want the hawks to love me. Absurd. But I can’t help it.

I had a very nice day today, and another Magic Carpet Ride with Larry. I have run out of words to describe the joy of the connection, of the positive effect on my mind and body, but I look in the mirror, and my sparky glowy healthy face smiles back at me, and I frisk around like any lizard myself, and I can only say that not even as a child did I ever feel this strong, this clear, this invincible, or this free.

I have completely and utterly lost interest in myself at one level, and at another, I am treating myself with a tenderness and an understanding that had always eluded me.

I was changed by something I read on my birthday in the Hugh Prather book, Notes To Myself, something so simple and hard that it stopped me in my tracks. And it was certainly one of the things that sent me to Larry.

He said,

I thought about this for a long time, and was humbled by it.

My body is my link with this beautiful world; it is the expression of my humanity, it is a reflection of my soul, and it is my only opportunity to participate in this life, with these people, with these hands.

And I was not in fact treating it as well as I would treat a dog.

When the idea changed, so did I.

6 thoughts on “Alexander and Freaktail

  1. We have a wonderful man, Ken Lockwood of Eagle Valley Raptor Center, that rescues hawks, eagles and owls here in Kansas. I am always amazed at the female raptors compared to the males. He has a goofy male bald eagle that shows off and poses for pictures, etc. All while the female stands at the end of the enclosure watching with disdain! The birds that the public are allowed to see are the really injured, unreleasable birds, but they are wonderful and wild and majestic!

    • I think that you are correct, assuming that “piebald” is a loose term. Freakydeek has no white on him- instead he had odd banding as a lad, and now has dark splotches on his wings. I need to get a closer look at his tail, and ideally see him in flight. Also, I know very little about anything. Which makes the world a place of wonder for me.

  2. Dear Kate, Thanks so much for sharing the page “Treat your body as would treat your beloved pet”. This is an inspirational “eye opener” for me, and excellent food for thought.

    • The whole book is really sweet like that. Hugh struggled hard to be a better person. We had a lot of friends in common, but I never knew him. I did know his work, though, and his peaceful campaigning against nuclear weapons. So he meant something to me long before I ever found his books.

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