Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Molting Season

To have two parakeets in a cage that hangs from the ceiling is to have a complicated relationship with feathers.

Feathers are, of course, beautiful to look at, whether on or off the bird. They come in iridescent yellows, blues and greens — hues that might be garish elsewhere but seem perfectly natural on a bird. And feathers are fun to collect and hold: the sharp peak of the long flight feather and the soft fuzz of the white down.

But when birds molt and feathers fly, well, then you have a lot of cleaning to do. It was while cleaning after a recent molt that I began to wonder:  How would it feel to live with feathers, to fluff them and preen them, to see them piled on the cage floor?  How would it feel to lose them, one by one?

Would we be lightened? Would we be freed? And when new growth appeared, would we know then what it means to begin again?


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