Hark! The Harold peacock sings!
It was late last summer when we first saw him wander down our street, homeless and forlorn. His ragged appearance was alarming, and he roamed silently. He eyed us with suspicion whenever we passed and kept his distance. Nonetheless, we always greeted him with a smile, and tried to make him feel welcome.
It pulled at our heartstrings to see him meandering alone, day after day. Where was his home? Was his family worried about him? How did he end up here? We didn't know his name, but the lady in the house on the corner decided to call him Harold, and the name stuck.
Harold trudged slowly, as if he suffered from some ancient injury. Despite his downtrodden look, there was something proudly regal about him. In better time, he wore behind him a splendid train, but now he dragged just three scraggly, bent tail feathers.
We'd heard there were peacocks living in Lake Grove, and Harold was probably from their flock. Perhaps he'd had a falling out with them, and flown east to our side of Lake Oswego for peace and quiet. But here he had none of his kind to spend time with. No one to peck for seeds with on the lawns. No one to stroll with him during the day or keep him company through the long nights.
The lady on the corner was especially drawn to this outcast, and began leaving food scraps for him. Soon, much to her husband's dismay, the scraps were replaced by breakfasts cooked especially for Harold, set out in a special bowl.
Before long, the Lakewood neighborhood was abuzz with the excitement of having our own pet peacock and mascot. Startled drivers looked incredulously as they chanced upon Harold ambling down the road. Neighbors said he slept high in the Douglas firs at night, yet I worried with each word of a coyote sighting.
As Harold grew more comfortable, we'd find him in a variety of photo-worthy settings. Perched on our neighbors' stained glass sculpture, his brilliant sapphire neck complemented the colored panes beneath him. Poised on a home's front porch banister, he was a self-appointed sentry, much to the amusement of the three little boys inside. Occasionally he would commune nearby with two cast iron geese statues.
Around Christmas time, our son was home from New York and eager to see this peacock we'd spoken of. Suddenly we heard loud honking outside and found the peacock on a roof, squawking emphatically. I pointed and said "Hark! The Harold Peacock sings!"
Eventually the three bedraggled tail feathers became two, then one, and finally all signs of his prior glory were gone. Snow came and he disappeared, but as the cold weather receded, Harold reappeared, sprouting new feathers. By spring, a long train of iridescent plum-age flowed gracefully behind him.
One day two large moving vans parked near the corner. The lady who cooked Harold a gourmet breakfast every morning was relocating. We were disappointed to see her go and worried about what would become of Harold.
Within days, Harold vanished and has not been seen since. I like to think he put aside his feud with his Lake Grove friends and flew across the lake for a reunion. I like to think he's living happily and contentedly there today.
Joan Freed is a Lake Oswego
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