Curvy Companions

On Christmas Day 2018,  I was invited to lunch at my friends Jo & Chris’ place. Their home is in a gully surrounded by tall trees, a cool haven on a hot day.

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Besides, our crowd of about 12 of us, the 3 dogs and 2 chooks, some local birds dropped in. You could hear the Rainbow Lorikeets squawking before you saw them. They’re raucous clowns.

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Then, a rarer King Parrot got braver.

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 … gorgeous in its scarlet and green in the heat of the day.

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The household chooks paid no mind, just got down to business. What a cloak of feathers!

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It was the sudden appearance of his mate that made me go out and stare at her. She made not a sound. I had to get closer … get a photo. What a gift! I love wild birds.

They say King Parrots are not good talkers. They say that as pets they can live 25 years. They say Rainbow Lorikeets can be better talkers and can live 20 years. I hate to see them in cages.

I once had a hairdresser who expected his two South American  parrots to outlive him and had instructions in his Will to cover this eventuality.

Now I recall a ballad I came upon about King George V (Queen Elizabeth 11’s grandfather). Here, in Australia, he’s remembered as the then Duke of Cornwall and heir to the British throne who formally opened the inaugural session of our Australian Parliament in May 1901. The area in front of Brisbane City Hall is named after him – King George Square, site of civic celebrations and festivities.

The story goes that George had a pet parrot. When he was 12 he and his older brother were sent to do a stint in the Royal Navy. As a 17 year old Midshipman on HMS Bucchante, he bought himself an African Grey on shore leave in Port Said.

‘Charlotte’ became a very good talker and the King’s longtime friend. She would call out phrases like “Where’s the Captain?” and “God Save the King!”  Here’s an extract from that ballad composed by one of my favourite English poets, Charles Causley – When George the Fifth Was a Midshipman  –

When the King was ill and ailing

And very nearly died

They shut her out of the bedroom;

Left her in the passage outside.

Bless my buttons! said Charlotte.

 

But when his illness was ended

She was first at His Majesty’s bed;

Danced for joy on the pillow

And over his anointed head.

God saved the King! said Charlotte.

Of course there are more stories about parrots. You must know one! The old favourite about the cat and the parrot. Can you recall the first parrot you ever met? … I’ll tell a Nasruddin Hodja story about ‘Why a turkey is more valuable than a parrot’ at our next Storytelling Unplugged session on Hodja tales in February. OK?

NB “Curves” Lens_artists #28 photo challenge made me think of parrots’ beaks for some reason! We’ll see how it goes …

Sources

Australian King Parrot. Accessed 12 January 2019 https://www.wikiwand.com/en/Australian_king_parrot

CAUSLEY, Charles Jack and the Treacle Eater. Illustrations by Charles Keeping. London, Macmillan, 1987.pp 29-31.

George V- Wikiwand. Accessed 12 January 2019. https://www.wikiwand.com/en/George_V

Lorikeets the Clowns .Accessed 12 January 2019 http://www.betterpetsandgardens.com.au/pet-care/birds-and-poultry/keeping-lorikeets/

All text (except quote) and photos by Meg

Story Twigs the Imagination! by Meg Philp is Copyright © under Australian Law.

Story Told on a Tree of Life.

Here are images of a story carved in Western Red Cedar that’s not mine to tell. It belongs to the Coast Salish People. You will have to use your imagination, Dear Reader, as you look up the pole to piece a story together which makes sense to you.

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The tale starts and the bottom and ends at the top.

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The characters, human and animal, are in the order they appear in the narrative …

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… from the diligent warrior, all the way to the runaway couple at the top.

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The images of frog, heron, the Creator, octopus, and a canoe are split so they wrap around the pole and can be seen from both sides. That frog’s split/shared tongue symbolises a betrayal – the failure to keep a secret / a broken promise.

This story pole or legend pole stands in the grounds of the University of Victoria. (The label ‘totem’ is incorrect for it is an Objibwe word.) It marks the territory of the Coast Salish People of the Pacific NorthWest.

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I was in Victoria BC. for the conference ‘Narrative Matters 2016.’ My first session was right here on the UVic campus- “Vertical Narrative: Reading History in a Coast Salish Pole” – led by the Director of the U.Vic’s Legacy Art Galleries.

The pole was completed in 1990 by master carver Charlie Elliott, of the Tsartlip First Nation, in negotiation with local elders. It faces east, towards Cadboro Bay because this traditional story is set there.

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The warrior has his arm around his wife to protect her, but to no avail.

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Look up at the top. Can you see a black stone, a type commonly found in Cadboro Bay, embedded between the pair? This gives a clue re the couple’s fate.

This cultural message is regarded by the First Peoples as a true story. They regard Western Red Cedar as the Tree of Life.

…..

All text and photos by Meg Philp.

Curve
Look Up

For more info see
https://www.wikiwand.com/en/Charles_W._Elliott

http://royalbcmuseum.bc.ca/assets/2009-11-17-Coast-Salish-Fast-Facts.pdf

http://www.firstnations.de/development/coast_salish.htm