As a result of that desperate attempt to try to get the journal current (and failing at that too) after karoke session, I slept at 4 am. I had to pay off that sleep debt and woke up late to Yu's phone call at about noon on 25th June. I rushed off on the bike to Yu's house to find an extremely irritated Tinkerbell in a huff at me.
I had planned to go to a water spa to relax in with his family. That meant Tink would not be able to join us. She was out of her cage and thus, had to be put back into the cage for her safety. We promised her that we would take her out for the evening.
Somehow, she knew that afternoon would not include her. She stayed out of reach flying to one high point to another high point. All attempts at recall were snubbed by her. I felt part of that was due to Yu not doing regular recalls and point to point flight training. Part of it was due to Tinkerbell's bitchiness. I had a lot less problems with her in the past. She came at my recall cues. Quite a few times , I pleaded eloquently with her until she came down within reach to be caught and chucked into the cage.
I also had the Bim and Zorro. Holding either in my arms would trigger Tink to fly to my shoulder to be caught and thrown into the cage. Or hugging my wife.
Those processes were not available. She stubbornly refused to come to either of us on recall. But the hula hoops that I gave to Yu but not used by him before proved to be the solution. I luckily chanced on them yesterday forgotten in a corner of the house. Two were used to place at a couple of high perch points. As she left a high point to remain out of my reach, that point was quarantined by the hoop. Then it was repeated again at another high point. It was kind of amusing that as I reached for Tink at the last high point, she flew to those earlier high points but did not land and circled back. She finally landed lower down to be captured and tossed into the cage. We promised her she would be taken out later.
We could have done it a different way, but we both felt that was really below the belt and could not bring ourselves to do that. We could bring out the harness to let her think we would be taking her out and trick her to come at our recalls. I did that once to her but she made me feel so small after that I never did try that again.
That water spa and hot pools were outside the scope of this. I had enjoyed that with Joy and we used to go there twice a week when we lived in Chiayi.
Yu and friends wanted to take me out for a dinner at a very traditional restaurant near that BanTienYien. So in the late afternoon, we drove back to pick up Tink. The cage was opened and she flew up to find all the hula hoops gone. When Yu picked the harness and waved at her and gave recall, she came down like the nice little girl she could be when she is not bitchy to be harnessed and taken out.
The hospitality of the Taiwanese was very humbling to me. The scenes you might have seen of politicians trading punches and thrown ashtrays in their parliament remained only in the parliament. If you are new to Taiwanese friendships, you may even be paranoid of being setup for a sting. Their openess and their warmth is just so unique.
One of them brought a heavenly homemade wine from his own lychees and lychee flowers. Tink blessed me much of that evening by remaining on my shoulder liberally anointing my back maybe to punish me for suggesting the use of the hula hoops.
One of the dish was deep fried crickets that we both shared. A hind leg for her and a munch of the abdomen for me, a bite of the body for her and the rest with the head popped into my mouth. Other dishes were more ordinary and I would not bore you with them. But one other dish was very particular. It consisted of small birds, smaller than sparrows, deep fried. That was meant to be eaten completely. I accepted that was a local delicacy. I had one to be polite. Tasty as it was, I rather wished that dish was not ordered. Perhaps a part of the forest might have became quieter.
I enjoyed the wine so much and praised it so much that the guy who made the wine positively demanded that we all adjourned up to his farm on the slope of Alishan mountains to try more wine and tea. Tinkerbell stuck to her tea. I was careful not to adulterate that tea any more especially after a reader wrote privately to me to warn me that star fruit may have adverse effects on kidney functions. I had better things to do such as enjoying the wine to bother much with Tink being fussed over by others there.
Woke up kind of earlier after writing that belated update of flights and quicks and hitting the bed at 2 pm.
The original plan was to visit Tsaoling to introduce the bird whisperer to Yu. Joy sms me with his phone number. He grow tea oil but on weekends, he also work as a tour guide for visitors to Tsaoling showing them the sights. He told me he would be busy which made me happy for him. That region was cut off by heavy rains that must have affected his income. If the road was finally through and people can go there again, that would be good that he could make a bit more money than to entertain me.
So plans were changed that we would go to the Rhinocerous Bettle farm in the afternoon in Yu's car with the family. For the rest of the morning, I decided to take Tink on the bike to the LangTang reservoir. Being a Sunday, every 5 to 10 minutes, a group came along and chanced on me and Tink sitting by the lakeside. I go through almost the same act on request until I seriously thought about writing that and getting it translated in Chinese and photocopied that for handouts. That how clever parrots are and how they should not be imprisoned in cages or chained to a stand and their diet must not be just sunflower seeds followed by a recall by Tink as finale.
They probably forgot all I said, but they never will forget Tink on her flight to me. And should they keep parrots in the future, they would remember us by the lake.
We then rode back to drop the bike at his house for the drive to that Rhinocerous bettle farm. Something is lost in translation. That farm is called Du Jia Sian Non Chang which translate literally into rhino bettle farm. But the chinese words meant Single Horn Immortal, which had a better ring to it, but still translate literally to rhino bettle.
I described enough of that farm in that earlier episode I written on the rhino farm incident.
We decided that the sequential photos of Tink flight to Yu should be re attempted.
I knew I could not be within sight of Tink if that was done. We sat around earlier in that RBF recreational area. I placed Tink away 4 meters away from us to let her do her thing but with enough line for her to do her voilitional flights, or flights at her own will. I deliberately sat further away from her than Yu. It was kind of embarassing that she would fly to my shoulder even if Yu was remaining very good natured about it.
I tried to explain to Yu's younger brother how to frame the camera , positioned him to take the shots and rexplained the method of recalls. I stress to Yu on the verbal techniques to maintain touch with Tink and the observations that she was ready prior to the cue.
I showed him a couple of explicit recalls. I told him the combination of the newness of that spot with him as the visible source of familiarity to TInk would contribute to successful recall and hopefully successful serial photos of that action.
Then I hid myself behind a bush. I never felt so much as a voyeur as that time peeping at them and Tink. He did a test as suggested of 2 meters and I was delighted for him at the success. He beamed at me and moved 4 meters away and tried that again successfully. To my aghast, he then moved 15 meters away which I thought was too far at that stage. He did not sweet talked to Tink being too excited at his success. After too long a time, Tink responded heading away from him towards my direction. She turned her head down at me for a while and turned her head firmly to the front and continued to wing stubbornly forward. I knew she was in a punishing mood. At which Yu put the brake on the reel with TInk flying lower and lower to the hill side rising and rising until she touched the grass. I ran up to TInk to console her. She did not even turned her head to look at me. I knew better than to try a recall with her in that kind of state.
I then got her to step up and placed her on my shoulder to walk back to trouble shot that sequence.
We went off to the side and I went through another repeat of a good recall with Tink. I kept stressing to him the importance of mental image of her coming with the cue. And the importance of sweet talking before and after recalls. I then went to hide myself behind another bush to let him try again with Tink on a bale of hay.
As I watched and saw her being sweet talked to prior to recall of 2 meters, I could not help a surge of pride and joy and love of her. At that particular instance, which may be just a fluke in timing, she turned and looked at my direction. I had the mental certainty she knew precisely where I was hiding. Yu saw her looking at me and he laughed. I laughed , gave up and walked out behind the bush to have Tink immediately flying to me from 15 meters away. Somehow, I knew that she was going to come to me.
That kind of ended that day at the farm as it was getting late in the afternoon.
In the evening, was yet another dinner that was yet hosted on me and all my attempts to pay were deflected away.
It was a good dinner with no exotic special local delicacies like that dinner of the night before. Tink was kind of insistent on remaining on my shoulder accepting morsels handfed to her from both me and Yu. I looked around at the Shi and Wu families who were also with us as with the night before. It may have been the liberal flow of wine.
I felt so strongly that this trip was a healing trip for me surrounded by all of them. Even at the start, I had fears and doubts that I am sorry I inflicted on you.
But during the dinner and build up over the last few days, I got this feeling that while I may not have Tinkerbell, I never really lost Tinkerbell. Tinkerbell gained another family and people and friends who clearly cared for her even if I am not around. While her horizon expanded, I never be parted from her. The hole in my heart as expressed in a private letter to me was in a way an imaginary hole created by fears and worries for her as well as an extreme desire for her to remain with me.
I had been as ready and happy for her to be recalled and bonded with Yu as Yu was as happy to see her attachment to me.
I felt we all became a big family, catalysed together in some strange way by a little ball of grey.
I know I will be sad when I eventually have to say my goodbyes to Tinkerbell. I will also be sad at leaving Yu, Shi and Wu families too. And sadness at leaving Taiwan instead of living in Taiwan. But that sadness will not be that agonising tearing apart of my soul that I experienced in mid Oct last year.
And there are still many days ahead for me and Tinkerbell to revisit the places we enjoyed.