With spring right around the corner and craft fairs and craft shows getting ready to sprout out of the ground like a field over populated with wildflowers, and the AREtsy Street Team posting a very complete list of must read craft show tips, I felt now was a good time to post Part 9 of the Asha Chronicles. So, with out further ado, let the show begin!
The Asha Chronicles Part 9
Freedom Isn’t Necessarily Free
By Julie and Tim
February 21, 2008
Aunt Eva’s place was just what the doctor ordered for Asha and her frazzled family. After having been chased all the way from Georgia to Charleston, South Carolina, but a flock of Lovebirds and Asha’s stalker Otto, a prescription of rest and relaxation was in order.
Asha and her Dad and Mom immediately fell in love with Eva and her husband Dan. It seemed like they had known each other all of their lives and they quickly settled in and began sharing stories; most of which began and ended with something related to parrots.
Asha also quickly settled in with Eva’s flock. The four : Leah Danielle Sharon, a Hawkhead Parrot; PaPa, a Ringneck Dove; TidBit, a Green Cheek Conure; and Ruby, a young but majestic Green Wing McCaw; immediately fell in love with the frazzled Amazon and they all became flockmates in no time.
That evening Asha’s Dad took her for a walk along the Greenway behind Eva’s home and Asha got a big kick out of it, although she found herself subconsciously looking for Otto and his henchbirds on each overhanging limb.
Eva announced the next morning that she had a treat lined up for everyone on the coming Saturday.
“I read in the newspaper that there will be an Exotic Bird Fair in Charleston over the weekend at the North Charleston Coliseum,” Eva said. “I figured that we could pack up all the birds and go see what they have on display. It might be a good chance to stock up on food and toys for our fids.”
Everyone agreed and when Saturday morning came the birds were all packed into their traveling cages and the four humans got into their cars and headed for downtown Charleston. Charleston is one of the most beautiful cities in the country. Along with being a thriving seaport, it has been able to hang onto a lot of the antebellum charm of the Old South.
On the way to the convention Center Eva took Asha and her family for a tour of some of the magnificent mansions that survived the Civil War and which have been painstakenly preserved. Asha’s parents were fascinated by the combination of progress and love for history that the city exhibited.
When they arrived at the Coliseum the humans took the travel cages out of their cars and carried them into the building where they purchased their tickets and entered the exhibition hall. Their senses were immediately assaulted by the sound and smell of hundreds of birds. All along the walls and in aisles traversing the hall were cages of birds and tables filled with all sorts of items of interest to bird owners.
“We’ll never be able to see all of this,” said Asha’s Dad. “This place is huge!”
Eva suggested that they split up and plan to meet together in the center of the hall in one hour and compare notes.
As Asha’s Dad carried her traveling cage down the first aisle of caged birds Asha was stunned by the sight of the birds inside. To her they seemed lifeless and extremely bored. Several times she tried to call to them but none paid any attention to her. They all seemed drained of life. She also noticed that the larger birds were kept in cages that were way too small for them. Noble McCaws were housed in cages that barely allowed them to stretch out their long tail feathers. Anger soon began to build in her chest as she saw cage after cage inhabited by birds who seemed totally oblivious to what was going on in the world outside their cages.
He Dad stopped in front of a cage containing a pair of double-yellow headed Amazons. Asha looked at the birds and she was shocked to see how large they were. They were at least twice the size she was. She thought to herself that they would probably be unable to fly even if they had the chance.
Asha’s Dad called the owner of the birds over to the cage.
“Just what do you feed these birds?” he asked.
“We feed them bird seed,” the man answered.
“Don’t you know that bird seed is bad for caged birds if that is all you feed them?” Asha’s Dad responded with growing anger in his voice. “That is why they are so fat. You need to feed them nutritionally complete pellets along with vegetables and fruits. A seed diet will lead to them getting liver disease and other problems.”
“We feed them what they like, and if you’ll excuse me,” the man said as he walked away hurriedly.
Asha looked at her Dad and saw a growing sorrow in his face.
“How could they treat these birds like this,” he said to his wife. “They are intelligent creatures and they are being treated like merchandise at grocery store. Let’s find the others, I think I want to go.”
They soon found Eva and her family in the middle of the hall and it was obvious that they had not enjoyed their visit to the Fair either.
“I am so sorry,” said a contrite Eva. “I had no idea they were treating the birds like this. Let’s get out of here, please.”
The four humans hurried out of the hall and sat down together beside a small fountain in front of the Coliseum.
“This is not good,” said Dan. “I knew they sold birds at these Fairs, but I assumed they were regulated in some way and they treated the animals with decency and respect. They would be better off being sold at that Wal-Mart across the parking lot. I would hate to see what an Avian Veterinarian would say if they saw that.”
“Well, I found out the name of the company that puts this thing on and I assure you that they will hear a few choice words from me,” Asha’s Dad said. “I’m sure that most of the people in there selling food and toys were fine bird lovers, but those breeders had no excuse to treat those birds that way.”
The four humans agreed to return to Eva’s house and settle down. When they got back they put the birds into their cages and went into the kitchen. Asha quickly called the other birds together.
“We’ve got to do something about this,” she said with cold fury in her voice. “Writing letters to some company isn’t enough. We have to do something to get those birds out of there. The first thing we need to do is get in touch with my three friends Asa, Cecil, and BabyGirl.”
Ahsa turned to Eva’s Hawkhead Leah.
“Leah, you need to get on your momma’s computer and start getting the message out. We need to have those three here first thing in the morning,” Asha said. She then snapped a pair of talons as if she had just had a thought.
“I also need you to get word to an old friend of mine up in Virginia,” she said with a smile. “I need Beavis’ wisdom now more than ever.”
Leah slipped into the home office and started sending out emails to the other three members of the Feathered Friends and Asha’s friend Beavis. Beavis, an elderly but spunky Quaker Parrot, had just got home from Las Vegas where he had gotten into the snorting Cheerios habit. The Four Friends had rescued him and when they left he was in a birdie rehab center run by the mysterious Parrot Underground.
The new friends spent the rest of the evening eating, sleeping, and getting to know each other better. Most people would have been surprised to see birds of five very distinct species get along so well together. But birds aren’t people, and they did not even think about it, they just quickly bonded and were soon telling each other their life stories.
Around dawn TidBit awoke to hear a scratching on a window and flew over to let a small, green Quaker Parrot into the room. Asha’s face lit up like a beacon when she saw Beavis and she rushed over to wrap him in her wings.
“It is so good to see you old friend,” she told the newcomer. “I’m glad to see you are back to your old self. Why, you don’t look a day over 20.”
“I may not look it, but I feel every one of my 28 years,” Beavis said as he preened the side of Asha’s head with one of his talons. “What is going on that is so important that a parrot my age has to fly down here from Virginia, Although I shouldn’t complain too much, the warmer weather does wonders for my arthritis.”
“You just sit here and rest up and I’ll tell the whole story when everyone gets here,” Asha said.
The other three Feathered Friends arrived over the course of the morning and around noon they moved outside to a secluded spot along the Greenway and Asha began telling them about the trip to the Bird Fair and her plans to release the birds.
“The Fair ends this afternoon so we need to get going as soon as possible before those breeders start packing up and leaving,” Asha said. “The sooner we get there the more birds we can save.”
“That just makes my blood boil,” said Cecil. He was just a Budgie, but with the heart of an Eagle. “Packing those poor birds into those tiny cages and then selling them like they weren’t living things. We need to do something and do it fast.”
“I agree,” said BabyGirl. She was an Orange Wing Amazon. Her sweet looks belied a hot temper. “This is just horrible. Some of those birds are probably dying from being treated like that. Let’s get going!”
Asha turned to start giving instruction when she noticed that both Asa and Beavis were holding back and looking at each other.
“What is the matter you two? Don’t you see what is at stake here? We got to get moving. Time is wasting,” Asha shouted.
“Maybe we need to think this through a little better,” said Asa. She was a Cockatiel who could chew through concrete and crack any lock.
“My flockmate Tyson Parker was one of a group of cockatiels who were thrown out by their owners when they moved and decided they didn’t need to worry about their birds anymore,” Asa said. “Tyson was lucky enough to be found by my granny but others in his flock were not so lucky. They died.”
“What has that got to do with this situation?” asked a frustrated Asha.
“Tyson and his flockmates had been raised in captivity from eggs,” said Asa. “They knew nothing about living in the wild. When they were suddenly thrust into a situation where they had to find their own food and shelter they didn’t know what to do. They died of exposure or hunger.”
“Don’t you see Asha,” interjected Beavis. “Those birds down at the Coliseum are the same way. They may not be in a good situation and it may hurt your heart to see them like that, but you have to look at the alternative. What happens if you go and open all their cages and tell them to fly off and live free?
“Most of them have probably had their wings clipped and they couldn’t fly. They would probably waddle out the door and get run over by a truck,” Beavis said. “If they dodged the trucks, where would they find food? Where would they keep warm at night? Do you think Eva here can feed all of those birds if they decided to follow you back here?”
Asha’s face grew red with anger but them she slowly calmed down as she began to think about what Asa and Beavis had said.
“You have a good heart Asha,” said Asa. “We know you just want to help those birds. But just tossing them out into the cold, cruel world would not be doing them any favors.”
“We might just have to admit that those birds are beyond our help,” Beavis said mournfully. “Probably the best we can do is swear we will do our best to make sure that the same thing won’t happen to another generation of birds.”
“I just don’t know,” Asha said. “I understand what you say, but it just doesn’t seem right. It just doesn’t seem right!”
Suddenly the small clearing they were standing in was covered with a cool, dim light. In the middle of the light they just barely make out the form of a stately and beautiful Blue & Gold McCaw.
“Rosalie!” shouted TidBit. “It’s Rosalie!”
The birds just stood in awe. Rose had been one of Eva’s companion birds until she went over the Rainbow Bridge several months earlier. Rose had been one of the most popular birds on the Bird Channel and was a legend in the avian community.
“Asha, come closer. I want to speak to you,” the spectral form of Rosalie said.
Asha moved closer to the vision, scarcely trusting her sight. “Is that really you Rose? Is it really you?”
“Yes it is me, dear Asha. I cannot stay here for long. I have many duties over the Bridge and it takes a lot of energy to come here like this,” Rosalie said. “As Asa said, your urge to help shows you have a good heart, but you must use your mind as well. You have trusted the wisdom of Beavis and Asa in the past, do so now. If you free those birds you will be sending many of them to the Bridge before their time.”
“OK Rose,” Asha said with a bowed head. “I will follow their advice no matter how hard it will be to stand aside.”
“Rosalie,” stammered Beavis. “Could I ask you a question?”
“Certainly Yoda Beavis, you may ask me anything you want,” Rosalie said.
“I am an old parrot, many years past my prime,” Beavis said. “Just what is it like beyond the Rainbow Bridge. Is it as happy a place as I hear? Will I be young again? Will I see my mama when it is her time to pass over?”
“Yes to all of those questions Beavis,” said Rosalie with a smile. “But don’t be so anxious. Your time on this Earth is not yet up. You will have other opportunities to give advice to these young birds.”
The vision of Rosalie faded with the light. The birds all stood in a circle looking at each other as if they were afraid to break the silence.
Suddenly Asha broke the mood with a laugh as she slapped her leg with a wing.
“Well, I’ll tell you what I will do,” she said as she got ready to rocket into the air. “I’m flying down to that dang Coliseum and poop on the windshields of every one of those stupid breeders. How about that, old wise Yoda?”
“The Force will truly be with you on that one,” said Beavis with a smile. “As will I!”