Topic: "Freedom? Hell No" (3)
Sydney is a cockatiel. He is the only resident of the Shire who came at full retail. He was selected to provide company for Peeper, another cockatiel, who had entered into the lives of Frodo and Sam by sheer happenstance. Therein lies the tale.
Frodo and Sam were attending an outing at the behest of the College of the Shire. Sam noticed an avian alien descending to join in the festivity, and asked Frodo to take note. Frodo extended a single digit, and it was promptly identified as perch heaven by the "Lutino Cockatiel" (as they were to learn later). Most likely the "yellow bird" had taken flight through an open window somewhere and had lost track of the route home. Frodo must have appeared as somewhat storklike, but certainly non-threatening, so why not join in the party?
"Peeper," because of her penchant to respond to this suggested moniker, over-and-over, in a somewhat melodic manner, was a female, and after Frodo and Sam learned what and how to care for her, set up housekeeping. Frodo has to admit that he was unaware that a bird would just begin to lay unfertilized eggs, and to do everything in her unisex power to create new cockatiels. Although enlightening, it was also very sad.
"Sydney" was just six months old when he came home from the pet shop. By this time, Peeper was probably four or five years old. Given what was to take place over the next year or so, Frodo suggested changing their names to "Benjamin" and "Mrs. Robinson." Peeper was an able instructor, and Sydney was a willing student. Frodo and Sam determined however, that the care and feeding of baby cockatiels at two AM was not on their agenda, and even though the eggs kept appearing, and were well-cared for a day or so, they mysteriously disappeared shortly thereafter.
Several things happened during their time together that deserve special note. Peeper never sang again after Sydney arrived. No matter how he tried, the sing-songy "Peeper" response to Frodo joined the annals of memory. Grooming became a routine and tender expression of affection between Peeper and Sydney. For many minutes at a time, one would bow a head and allow the other to beak up the feathers atop, then respond to the other in like fashion. Even Rocky and Punkin', feline residents of the time, would watch the cooing affection with something more than hunger pangs.
"One grey night it happened. . ." and Peeper lay still at the bottom of the cage. Despite the anxiety felt by all, Sydney seemed to take things pretty well. Then Frodo noticed one of the many feeders inside the cage, yellow in color, was drawing all of Sydney's attention. Sydney would sit next to the yellow feeder, bow his head, and slowly rub his top-knot against the lip of the feeder. Occasionally, Frodo would softly whistle "peeper," and Sydney would issue a single call, then note that it was merely that storklike clod on the outside, and not something important.
Frodo thought of this because today is Sunday. On Sunday, Sam prepares an All-American Breakfast, the only such presentation of the week, and Sydney has taken a special interest in both waffles and pancakes. Somehow, maybe because he can count to seven, Sydney has figured out that Sunday is his day to share in Frodo's waffles or pancakes. The routine is that he will fly from his cage, and land on Frodo's shoulder, and there stand guard until Sam arrives with the treasure. Not long ago, Sydney bowed his head while perched on Frodo's shoulder, and began to rub his topknot against the stubble on Frodo's cheek
Frodo notes special pleasures in life, and a little bird told him how.