Monday, August 24, 2009

My son sings to tigers... and they sing back!

This is Casanova. As you can see, he is an incredibly magnificent creature. A Siberian White Tiger, visually stunning, with the personality of a goofball lover. On the outside, he's all Carry Grant, Johnny Depp and Fred Astaire... On the inside... some oddball cross between the original Casanova, Toulouse Lautrec and Chevy Case. How can a tiger be a goofball? That's another post for another time. But I did want to mention that my almost 4 year old, Harley, took the above photo himself. First try! In fact it was the one and only pic he took of his friend yesterday. Good eye, eh?

This is Harley. He is an incredibly magnificent creature as well. He makes up songs constantly. He also likes to make up words and kind of has his very own language, which he wields at will. He likes balloon parties, singing, playing guitar, toads, lizards, more toads, anything train oriented and digging in the dirt. (Both with a shovel and with hands). He loves all creatures large and small, but his most favorite-ist one of all is a Casanova.

Casanova lives at Cougar Ridge Educational Center, which is owned and operated by our dear friend Gloria. Harley first met Ms Gloria and her furry family: Ashukalee (Sugar for short) and Lakota, (the two cougars who also live at Cougar Ridge... hence the name) and Casanova, one year ago on Sugar's birthday. Ms Sugar, being the Queen of the Ridge, had an elaborate party which felt more like a low key gala if that makes sense. The gala included decorations, cake, human refreshments, well wishers of all ages and backgrounds, (I think one of our state representatives was in attendance), and of course big kitty treats/presents/refreshments... The only one I really remember was a new ball, but I'm sure some kind of fresh venison was probably involved as well.

I wanted so badly to get her one of those big ass bones you see sometimes in Publix, but that would involve getting bones for the other two cats as well. Believe me, you really don't want beasts of that size picking bones with one another, literally. And, truth be told, these sized bones are pretty expensive if you get more than one. I was sad that we could not afford a round of bones and did not know what else to get a cougar diva for her birthday. But luckily Harley had his own gift idea. He suggested we bring his guitar so that he could sing and play Happy Birthday to Sugar. Great idea! So, that is what we did. Unfortunately, Sugar is a bit shy, so there is no telling what she really thought about this... however, there was no mistaking what Casanova thought of it. He LOVED it! It was the cutest most amazing thing ever. Cass immediately met Harley as he approached his enclosure, guitar in hand. He greeted him with a friendly "Chuff-Chuff" (That is happy tiger talk), and it was love at first sight... Then Harley began to serenade him, and it got even more comical and heartwarming. Harley often has to stroll or move about when he's playing, so he paced up and down the length of Cas's enclosure. Cas trotted beside him following his every move, and sort of springing about like a graceful goofy dancer, chuffing and occasionally just gazing at Harley, or rubbing up against his fence in pleasure while listening intently. I even caught him making biscuits one time! (It is the way house cats show effection by pressing their paws into something as though they are kneeding dough). It was a grand time indeed.

Unfortunately, we have not seen a lot of Gloria or her furry family since.then We have kept in touch by phone and email along the way, but we both got caught up in life's chaotic pace, which can dull our connections. So, out of the blue lasts week, I got possessed with catching up with those folks who I have lost contact with, and called her. Turns out it was HER birthday this past weekend. So all Harley could talk about was making Ms Gloria, who he now refers to as "Aunt Gloria", a birthday cake and singing to her, and her kitties, naturally. There are very few people I've seen Harley take to that were not family or people we see regularly like he has with Gloria. (Personally, I think he's got a massive crush on her!) As much as an almost 4 year old can. This is not surprising as she is gorgeous, exuberant, kind and when she speaks to you, it's as though you are the only person in the universe. Plus she loves kids or at least mine, so there you go~ The fact that she is the mommy of his favorite tiger friend is just icing on the cake. (Really, no pun intended. I swear.) So, we sang to Ms Gloria, Harley helped her blow out candles and she and I got to catch up some. Harley got to flirt a bit and ask all sorts of questions about big kitties. He astutely observed that "Casanova doesn't even know how BIG he is"!! (So true, much like the St Bernard who thinks he's a lap dog). We had to explain to him that while the kitties are sweet from a safe distance, they are wild creatures also. That's when he announced his observation.

Here is Harley signing to Cas. These pictures don't really do either of them justice, just as words do not, but it will give you an idea. In some of these, it looks like Cas is singing along, but he is actually chuffing and panting, which I guess in tiger talk, is really one in the same.


laura said...

So cute! I love how earnest he looks when he sings. Let's hear more about this made-up language. Didn't you used to make up words, too?

Ms. Moon said...

Oh my god! That is so amazing! Harley is a very, very special boy and you, Ms. Fleur, are a very, very good mama.

erin said...

Wow! He's like a little guitar wielding angel!
It looks like they're both really enjoying the music.

Petit fleur said...

Laura~ Thanks for stopping in. Yes, he is earnest in all that he does. That's the magic of childhood. They have no filters or reasons to hold back.
love you. xo

MM~Thank you, thank you thank you! Yes, I hear that word "amazing" a lot these days, and very rarely is it actually the correct word. This time, it is. I'll call ya later, you mentioned you had to tell me something.

Hey Erin~ Yea, what you said sums it up. But you know, they are all angels, young-uns. Just some of us recognize that and others do not.
Thanks for stopping.

Steph said...

Harley the Tiger Whisperer


Petit fleur said...

Good one Steph! It's nice to see your smiley face again.

Sarcastic Bastard said...

Petit Fleur,
I came by from Ms. Moon's blog. Glad I did! What wonderful photos. My dream job would be to work with lions and big cats. I adore them. I watch all the Animal Planet shows on them I can. I also like bears very much.

Lucky you to get that close, and Harley is really a darling boy.

Much love,


Petit fleur said...

Hey SB,

Thanks for dropping in. I often love your comments on MM's blog. I feel like all of MM's minions are connected at the heart. :-)

Yea, Harley was getting a little TOO close. In one of the photos you can see Gloria's hand warning him to stay back. Harley and Cass are like moths to flames with each other. And I know what most people probably think. (He looks like food!) But I promise you that you can tell by the animals gestures and behavior he is not looking at prey. Thanks for the sweet words about Harley.

We are really upset because Gloria has fallen on hard times in the last few years. (who hasn't?) She is in real danger of loosing her home if she doesn't find a higher paying job soon. If that happens she may also loose her cougars. I believe Cass is already promised to a friend of hers who runs a preserve or small zoo in GA. He is just too expensive to feed. (I feel like my rabbits are these days!) Can't imagine a tiger! whoa! Anyway, we are working to drum up donations for her non-profit to help defer the cost of feeding the cats at least.

I'm going to talk to Gloria about posting about that. Not sure if she is wanting this to be "public" just yet. Anyway, probably more info than you wanted. I guess I needed to vent! Thanks. And thanks again for stopping.
xo min

Anonymous said...

I second Ms. Moon's comment: what a very good mama, PF. To support and encourage that kind of connecting and creativity is the coolest. And, your son is beautimus!

Identify with Dexter said...

Oops. The anonymous was me. Still dingling around with blogging's bells and whistles...

Petit fleur said...

Hey you!!

Yea, there were a couple of other anonymous comments that I was pretty sure were you also. Meant to ask, so thanks for clearing up that little mystery!

Yea, he's a little sugar puddin' as they say in the south. Thanks for the support of my mommying. It reminds me that it's ok not to be rushing out to get a job. Even if we are skating on thin ice. (I love the saying: "If you're gonna skate on thin ice, you might as well dance").

And the book Horse Boy IS the same book you thought it was. It is about autism and shamanism, two of my favorite things. It's SO f--cking incredible. The people, Mongolia, the story, the nature the beauty, the adventure, the agony/ecstasy, the healing. I LOLed, I COLed... It's just marvelous. I think you'll love it.

Till next time,

Zengoof said...

A beautiful post. There's nothing like the love between a boy and his tiger!

Petit fleur said...

Ha! Good one! xoxoxo!!

Maggie May said...

music soothes the savage beast!

Petit fleur said...

Hey Maggie,

Thanks for stopping.

Yea, that's what I hear about music and beasts, only this one, not so savage. Just big and goofy with fangs, and therefore dangerous.

In any case, he was soothed, and amused.

May said...

This is just marvelous! I'm sorry I'm late with the commenting, but damn PF! What a special, magical thing for Harley to do! He will remember this forever, and have the pictures to prove it. I can just see him as a grown man saying to a pretty girl "When I was a child, I sang to the tigers."

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Anonymous said...

Your blog keeps getting better and better! Your older articles are not as good as newer ones you have a lot more creativity and originality now keep it up!

Petit fleur said...


Thank you! Do I know you or did you just stumble here??

Your comment is so interesting to me, because I feel just the opposite sometimes. I feel like the older ones are better and more creative.... I will ponder this.

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