Let's go to the memory vault to find a tale that doesn't involve something cold or snowy. Pretty please.
Everyone in our family loves pets, even the ones who don't admit it (Dad, Hubzam...). We've raised and loved every sort of creature you can imagine. At times, we partially raised dogs for my grandmother to save her the trouble of housebreaking a new pet. Cats were on our radar, but not as popular as dogs. The other critter we connect with is birds, especially parakeets.
Parakeets are the perfect pet for someone who want an easy keeper. Even small children, who can't be trusted to handle the birds safely (hint, hint), can enjoy watching their antics.
One year, we gave my great grandma a parakeet that she named Peachy. She'd talk to it and her dog, Tippy, all day long. Sometimes she'd give me play by play reports of what Peachy was up to in our phone calls. When visiting, my siblings and I would fall into the same mode and chat with Peachy; we were amused by her "warm up" jibberish on the way to actually talking. If you've never owned a bird that talked, you just can't understand how magical that can be. You start to think that this is a small human covered in feathers, no matter how limited the vocabulary.
Growing up in Ohio, we had Mulligan's Pet Shop. As you walked in the door, a huge Mynah bird named Joe sat and held court. Everyone who entered was greeted with a loud, enthusiastic "Hi, Joe!" from the bird. It's amazing that the owner ever sold anything; we were rarely interested in anything beyond standing at the perch and encouraging the bird to say "Hi, Joe" over and over again. Everyone loved Joe; he was so personable - or a great faker.
A fire destroyed Mulligan's Pet Shop and my friends and I wept at the loss of Joe. He was the last Mynah bird I ever saw as a pet.
Jumping on this bird-love history, my little brother asked for a bird for his birthday; I think he was ten at the time, but that's just a guess. The beautiful thing about your sibling getting a pet is you get to play with it, too. Even better, you may not have to actually care for it - it belongs to your brother, after all.
Brother dear would hold "Bird", and inspired name if ever there was one, on his index finger and talk to him. Soon he began to say things like "Hello" and "give me a kiss." The later phrase came from Bird's tendency to lean forward and check out your lips if you held him close to your face. We started pretending he was giving us a kiss and were delighted when he started saying "give me a kiss," too.
Bird rode around on shoulders frequently, and his cage door stayed open for a big portion of the day. If you called him, he'd fly out and join you. If you held out your index finger when you called him, he'd land there. Bird treats were available to reward him when he came to "give you a kiss." That bird must have come when called hundreds of times. As warm weather approached, the human trips in and out revealed a problem. Bird would try and follow people outside. Far, far outside.
Once outside, Bird might pause on your shoulder, but then he went straight for a tree. His favorite landing pad was two doors down at Betty's house, our neighbor and good friend. He'd perch in the center of the tree about twelve feet off the ground and just chatter away when you came for him. If I could read his mind, I surmise he was calling us and thinking to himself: "These idiots all most have it down. They're trainable!"
The litmus test for true bird love was our willingness to embarrass ourselves in order to get that bird to come back. Standing under the tree, my brother would start tearing up and moaning about the bird, sure that we were moments away from losing him for good. As the big sister, I'd be doing the dirty work of holding my index finger up and calling "Bird! Bird! Come here, Bird! I've got a treat!".
If that didn't work, the next phase involved yelling "Give me a kiss! Give me a kiss" and by that time, any neighbor in ear shot thought you had lost your ever loving mind. They couldn't see the bird in the tree and I always looked insane.
Curious neighbors might walk over and ask what I was doing and then I really looked dumb as I tried to explain the whole bird story. One time, a neighbor looked up and said, "I don't see a bird..." and gave me a concerned look. IT'S THE SAME COLOR AS THE LEAVES IN THE TREE, LADY. LOOK CLOSER.
Sadly it was easier to believe I was nuts (or accurately; you be the judge).
Bird always came back. And many of the neighbors tried not to make eye contact with me in the grocery after witnessing my recovery efforts.