Monday, December 22, 2008

Minor Triumphs

By Sarah Albrecht

It’s three days before Christmas, but this isn’t a Christmas post. Amidst the holiday confusion of reverence and stress, the muse hasn’t struck. So this isn’t a Christmas post. It’s a bird post.

A parakeet post, actually. That’s because several days ago I trimmed my parakeet’s beak. I’ve had parakeets most of my life, but this was the first time one of my birds’ beaks ever grew too long. The beak became monstrous, actually, curving and scaly like a rusted scimitar poking into poor Gordy’s green chest. Ew.

I had no idea how it happened, being a faithful hanger of cuttlebones and sprinkler of gravel on the cage floor. One day the beak was just too long. Was this vet-worthy? I wondered and vacillated, not being a subscriber to parakeet insurance. Somehow Gordy managed to eat and clamber, but I knew something had to be done.

Finally the other day I walked into the bathroom—yes, due to cat issues we keep two parakeets in the master bathroom—and snapped. Grabbing a pair of fingernail clippers and a washcloth, I took a deep breath and approached the cage. “This won’t hurt a bit,” I cooed, sliding open the door and inserting a washcloth-draped hand. Gordy didn’t believe me and exploded into squawking green fireworks.

Persistence paid and I caught her, gently, and proceeded with the trim. When I finished, both of us felt a bit shaken. However, not being a farm girl accustomed to animal husbandry and the like, I felt a bit heady also. I clipped the beak!

It was a Minor Triumph.

I like Minor Triumphs, little surprises that pop into days often filled with perplexing problems that require long-term efforts to solve, or at least manage. Small or quirky as they may be, they are still triumphs, worth a little smile and a lingering savor.