Birds Are Singing. So Are Corgis.

Kage Baker did not like animals. She was adamant about it. I never saw her charmed by a dog, a cat or even a kitten. Not being charmed by a kitten is just … unnatural. She sneered when I told her that, though.

She did like birds, and she and Harry had a deeply loving relationship. She said it was because birds were not animals. She also didn’t like fish; but she claimed that they weren’t animals, anyway. Which they both are, of course and so I advised her to consider insects if she wanted a non-animal companion. Kage ignored me, and Harry bit me.

In some ways, ours was a very caste-dependent household. Kage and I traded places all the time, because Harry was actually in charge …

However, Kage did have a few perfectly amicable relationships with both dogs and cats in her lifetime. All her friends and family liked animals, and she couldn’t avoid them entirely. So she treated companion animals as she did human beings – individually, on their personal benefits. She would end up grudgingly being polite to her sister’s dogs and my occasional cats, even though she despised them – as people, of course. To Kage, I think, everything had a personality and was an equal. She did say sentience was overrated.

And it was her idea that Kimberly needed a Corgi. We were sitting above the Pacific one afternoon, watching waves, when a baby Corgi came gamboling up out of nowhere and grinned at us. Kage stared at him a few moments, and then declared “Kimberly ought to get one of those.” She said it in her prophet voice and went so far as to pat the puppy. I therefor sought fresh Corgis (the Central Coast is thick with various breeders) and within a few months, Kimberly had a puppy. Kage never met him, but now I live with him …

These days, you see, Harry and I both reside with my sister. Kimberly has two cats, both Maine Coons, and a 6-month old Corgi. It makes for an interesting daily dynamic, as Syndodd* the Corgi puppy has only recently grown to nearly match the male Maine Coon, Edward, in size … when they play tag, you have two insane animals the size of hassocks chasing one another through the house. And Harry, who has assumed captaincy of this Ark, is usually cheering them on from the safety of his perch with a mad cacophony of growls, meows and whistles.

You couldn’t really say we have average domestic animals. Maine Coons are enormous cats, and extraordinarily furry; Edward the Black in like a storm with a tail, and the red lady cat, Ashby, is like a sunset cloud. Syndodd is a copper-coloured little bulldozer with ears longer than his legs. Being a Corgi, he talks and sings as he plays. And of course, there is Harry, the bird who speaks both cat and dog and orchestrates all the mayhem. I have no idea how they came to this arrangement, but it amuses me. It would have driven Kage insane in short order.

But where I live, we are also rich in wild birds and beasts. This is where I grew up, on the edge of Griffith Park and it’s a delight to share space with all the critters from the Park. I also lived in the Hollywood Hills but most of the animals who ventured into human territory there were large or predators or both: deer, pumas, hawks and eagles, coyote and even the occasional wild pig. Here we get lots of little fuzzies like squirrels, raccoons, skunks and possums – there is a small racoon on the front porch, attempting to purloin an entire plate full of bird seed even as I type.

In the day, we are bird central, and the air is full of the music of song sparrows, house finches, towhees, phoebes, mourning doves, mockingbirds. When the sun is on the front porch, it casts the shadows of lace curtains and wings on the white living room walls. Crows and ravens come around as well, to steal peanuts from the squirrels; hawks, usually goofy juveniles hoping for a free lunch, scare everyone off and then sit in the trees and wonder where all the little birds have gone.

When the hawks give up and move on, the smaller birds come back and the wings and songs resume. Harry listens to bird song with a professional detachment, while Syndodd and the cats watch the shadows; they are clearly waiting for a manifestation right here in the living room, and are eternally prepared to defend the house from sparrows.

I just sit in my trusty recliner and bliss out on the music. It is encouraged by Harry, warbling and whistling and making theremin noises, and by Syndodd singing wolf cub nursery songs as he chews the nose off a stuffed toy. Sometimes a cat comes to sit on me and purr.

Spring is warming slowly to summer, and I am astounded once again to able to bear witness to it.I am surprised at every turn of the seasons these days, and by every whisper and shadow of life that beats at the window. Bird song is a blessing.

The Corgi singing is cool, too.

  • Syndodd means surprise in Welsh. He earned this hero’s name because his mother managed to conceal her pregnancy from the breeder until she suddenly produced 6 puppies. And because his father had been declared as too old to breed by the vet. Surprise!

About Kate

I am Kage Baker's sister. Kage was/is a well-known science fiction writer, who died on January 31, 2010. She told me to keep her work going - I'm doing that. This blog will document the process.
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1 Response to Birds Are Singing. So Are Corgis.

  1. Luisa says:

    {{{ ❤ }}}


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