Today was a long day at work. And by long, I mean wrong end of a wormhole in the space/time continuum kind of long. Just getting home felt like some kind of triumphant victory.
Walking through the door, I noticed the house was quiet and I felt a little lonely about it. Feeling a little sorry for myself I guess that I didn't have a family at home waiting for me. It was late enough that mostly all I had time for was chores before putting the birds to bed and tucking the puppies and I into bed as well. Imagine my surprise when the night took an unexpected turn.
It began innocently enough with letting the puppies out of their crate and into the yard and opening the parrot cages so they could all stretch their wings, play around and have their way with their play stand toys. My African Grey, Sam, started howling like a wolf. Before long, he had Qwynn, my other African Grey howling as well. Daisy, the Amazon parrot began to sing "You Are My Sunshine" during all this howling and the Quakers started counting from 1-4 and yelling "Yahooo!!!" after saying "four!" All typical vocalizations for my house, but I can't remember the last time we all did it together. So I gave everyone treats and copious amounts of praise for their various performances and things quieted enough so that I could eat, tend to the puppies and put some Christmas gifts in the spare room until wrapping time.
The moment I started cleaning the floors, Sam and Qwynn were howling again. I figured, what the heck? I started howling too. The puppies, Pippa and Baylee got in on the howling bit and then Qwynn and Sam were calling the puppies by name and telling them to "c'mon!" so the birds could throw them pellets and watch the puppies eat them. The Quakers started laughing and by that time I was laughing while sweeping the floor. It was obviously Jack Johnson time when Sam gave up howling for singing. Sam LOVES Jack Johnson. So I finished chores with Daisy and Sam singing "You Are my Sunshine" while Jack Johnson sang "Better Together" (Daisy thinks EVERY song is You Are My Sunshine) and everyone else making happy noises and taking the occasional time out to crack a nut or pellet. This hilarity and play kept up for close to an hour before, chores done, I gave everyone kisses on their beaks, told them night night and turned down the lights. Mr Fish (beta fish) got a clean bowl of water with new rocks, the birds all got clean water in their bowls, and now my house is quiet.
But it's a different kind of quiet than it was when I got home. This kind of quiet seems content and at peace while the remnants of innocent happiness echo a little from time to time when I remember some cute little thing one of these critters I share my life with did tonight. We had actual joy tonight, each in our own way. We enjoyed the company we shared, the songs we sang, the numbers we counted, and the laughs that the Quaker parrots can't help but inspire when they get started laughing themselves. I think even the beta fish is happy in his new bowl with new rocks. The puppies are happy any time the birds share their pellets by throwing them on the floor. It might be a "you had to be there" kind of evening. Just reading back over what I wrote I'm not sure I'm able to explain how the night went and how the joy just surprised me out of nowhere.
A fire is crackling in the wood burning stove now and the flames glow red through the front door of its hot metal belly while I type this. It's the only light in that room. The ceiling fan is working hard to distribute the warmth evenly around the house and there's a soft sighing as its blades sweep at the heat. The birds' night lights are leaking a soft blue hue and some beak grinding is going on while they all settle down for sleep. Two sweet and sleepy puppies have taken up their posts behind me on the comfy chair while I type here and I realize that I have a strange life and I share it with strange creatures sometimes. Even the people I love have their own unique strangeness about them I suppose. But this is my life. And I'm learning to be happy again. Not every night will feel like this one did. But on those other nights, I'll have the warm memory of this one and hopefully others to come to remind me that joy will return and maybe when I least expect it and in an unexpected way.
For tonight, however, I am HOME. Truly not just a place with walls and beams but also a place of love and dreams... and hope. Always hope.