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Monday, March 31, 2014

Thomas, Tom, Tommy

Throughout my life I’ve had lovable pets. Two dogs, three cats, two Gouldian finches and three canaries. In between there have been long spaces with no pets too. Now I have one, Tommy, my red canary. As you may know from earlier blogs, Tommy was named after little Tommy Tucker, the fellow in the nursery rhyme who sang for his supper. But he’s also named after my great grandfather, Thomas Pulford, the only great grandparent I really knew. His grandson, my Uncle Tom, was named after him and became a successful farmer in the rolling hills of south-eastern Minnesota where I grew up. His five children were our playmates. Uncle Tom and Aunt Alice always welcomed my brothers and me to their big country home. We took turns riding Fanny, the Shetland pony, feasted on freshly baked bread slices lathered with butter and piled up high with brown sugar and climbed the apple trees when apples were ripe. There was no end to the fun we had at Uncle Tom’s place.

Why should I give a canary a prestigious name like Thomas? Well, my mother started that by naming the first canary in our family after President Herbert Hoover. “Herbie” was a yellow canary like most, and he helped to cheer us up through icy winters and the great Depression with his melodious songs. Of course, “little Tommy Tucker,” who sang for his supper, was a friend of all children in my day. My canary could sing beautifully so, Tommy seemed an appropriate name for my housemate when I got him a couple of years ago. He’s lived up to all three of his names, Thomas, Tom and Tommy.

My appreciation of Tommy was tested when I moved into my new home here at The Willows. He’d had the best view in the house at Quail Creek, a corner window overlooking the creek and park surroundings. His cage took up a large space on my kitchen counter but I let him have it because he deserved to see what might have once been his natural habitat, even if he couldn’t survive there as a bird born in captivity. 

I didn’t know where he would go in my new home. The big picture window that captivated me with its lovely view of the park just had to be kept clear. It was the piece de resistance of my home. Could Tommy’s cage be allowed to occupy the center of that window? I looked and there seemed to be no other option. Besides, Tommy is singing beautifully these days. Might it not be just for his supper but also for the view? We’d try him there a while. Turns out we can see pretty well through the cage rungs. Turns out if we have company and he’s too loud he sings just as nicely in the bedroom. Turns out he’s homesteaded there although I can’t find the paper work. I have much to do getting settled into this house and just sitting in the living room sewing, reading or watching TV has not exactly dominated my days. When I do find a little time to sit there it is fun to watch Tommy as he flits around the cage on his perches and swings, stopping only to sing. 

He doesn’t try to persuade me that this is his spot. He doesn’t speak English so he leaves that up to my own reasoning. “I don’t need to be taken out for walks and picked up after like a puppy dog. I don’t leave contributions in a littler box like a cat would. I don’t ask to be let out of the cage to leave my contributions here and there around the house. (Remember when you left the cage door open all day once and I stayed in?”) Tommy has his advocate in my conscience and I’m agreed. Great Grandfather Thomas, Uncle Tom and Tommy Tucker would say you can have the view. You’ve lived up to your name. I agree. You’ve won me over heart and song!

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