My Mostly Happy Life: Autobiography of a Climbing Tree

My Mostly Happy Life: Autobiography of a Climbing Tree

By Shelly Reuben

Chapter 6 Ė Ethanís Best Friend

Now I have to tell you a story about a fictional bird named Pal and a mother and daughter who looked very much alike.

Both had bright red hair.

Both had freckles.

Both had big hazel eyes.

And both were very pretty.

The motherís name was Pegeen Fitzgerald, and her ten-year-old daughter was named


They used to sit on one of my lower branches and read aloud (they took turns) from Megís favorite book, Ethanís Best Friend.

It was an old book, one that Megís mother had read during her own childhood. It was not very long, but it was jam-packed with illustrations and partially written in verse.

Since others, too, had loved that book, including Estherís mother Donna, who was a successful sculptress, the last two-lines of the story were engraved on a brass plaque and embedded in a brick wall that surrounds the Childrenís Garden in the Samuel Swerling Park. Sam had commissioned his daughter Donna to design and create the plaque herself.

Iíll tell you more about the Childrenís Garden later.

The bookís main character was a twenty-one year-old poet named Ethan. Ethanís purpose in life was to re-popularize the kind of rhyming poetry that was written by his English and American heroes, Robert Browning, Alfred Lord Tennyson, Edgar Alan Poe, and Rudyard Kipling.

He intended to accomplish this goal by writing the poems himself.

Ethan was a nice looking man. Not particularly handsome, because his mouth was a little too small, his teeth were a little too large, and his face was a little lopsided, but he was tall and well-made. He had light brown hair, compassionate brown eyes, and a sweetly romantic disposition. Ethan was the kind of a fellow who would walk across the street to give a donut to a vagrant; he always surrendered his seats to women on buses; and he held open doors for just about everybody, because it seemed to him to be the right thing to do.

His parents lived on a faraway farm halfway across the country, and they did not earn enough money to help pay his rent; but they did have a beloved cockatiel named Pal who had been in the family since before Ethan was born. So they gave Pal to Ethan to keep him company in the big city where he had moved to achieve his dreams.

Pal was a beautiful bird with a plump grey chest, white wings, an elegant long tail, and a bright yellow head, from which sprung a crown of grey feathers as graceful as a festive salute. His cheeks were emblazoned with vivid orange patches. These patches made him look like he was blushing from acute embarrassment and added a comical aspect to his otherwise forbidding beauty.

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