Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The Interpretation Of Communication

It's gray as an old blanket here this morning. A tiny bit of drizzle. Not enough to wet the whistle of the collard greens, but better than nothing, I suppose although at this point, it feels more like the old gray blanket is trying to smother me rather than offering any sort of relief. The kind of weather that makes you constantly look up to see what is what, what is coming? What has been? What IS it that the wind is whispering about? Where's the code book? Something sinister it would seem but maybe not, the wind is just two mean girls in the bathroom at high school, discussing a third girl whose clothes are all wrong, who thinks she is all that but really, is not at ALL, and she has big breasts, too, have you seen the way she flaunts those things?

Who knows what the wind is saying or the breeze or the silence, when it comes right down to it?

When I go to let the chickens out of their house and into the run in the mornings, they are all making a sound deep in their throats. A sound of anticipation, of eagerness to be let out and it is almost as if they have become one machine and you can hear it beginning to rumble, to whir as it starts up for the day, as if the hen house is, in fact, a machine, vibrating with that day-beginning mechanism warming up.

I love my chickens so much. Who knew that having chickens would be like this? My heart swells, absolutely, at the sight of them. I study them, I have come to know their different sounds and what they mean. Sometimes. This is not to say I understand everything nor ever will.
For instance, there are three nests which the hens generally lay in but one never knows which nest will be the favorite and some days, they line up to use the same nest and when that happens, as it is happening right this second, the hen-in-waiting will cackle a song of impatience and hurry-up. I have no idea why she doesn't just hop into another nest to lay- the two nests which were the favorites a few days ago are empty. So why is she so determined to lay on the nest which is already occupied?

That's Miss Trixie, waiting. With great, rhythmic chanting of reminder that there are other patrons, please finish up your business and let me do mine.

Elvis ignores these small squabbles, if indeed they are squabbles. But as soon as the hen on the nest lays her egg and jumps down and begins to proclaim her accomplishment and her plea for an escort back to the flock, he will come running to her. It is the Way of the Chicken.

And if anyone ever tries to tell you that chickens are stupid, just slap them for me, okay? Tell them that no, chickens are smarter than we know and if they are perceived as stupid, it is because we are blind to their sort of intelligence which has nothing to do with humans. We see dogs as smart because they can fetch this or figure out that or please us in some way but chickens have no need to please us and believe me- they have more figured out than a dog ever will.

As far as I can tell, at least.

The camellias are starting to open. Another thing which brings me more pleasure than I could ever have imagined in my youth.

Winter's reward and reminder of life always renewing, always there-is-a-season, even if there is much brown, even if there is dry, rusty rustling and unkind-gossip-whispering and the squirrels race down the trees and across the fence, they are the toddlers in the midst of the funeral party, they only care about their own pleasure, their toenails scampering along the bark, they chase each other for fun or for the prospect of fucking- who knows? but they do it and when I tell the Mr. Peep story to Owen I have the grandmother squirrels calling the young squirrels to the nest at naptime and they all cuddle in together and the grandmother squirrels says, "Close your eyes, my little darlings. Time to go to sleep."
And why not? Perhaps it is true.


Well, I have written far more than I intended and I suppose it is time to go about the business of human communication and interaction which is no less complex, nor more either, than that of the leaves, the wind, the chickens, the flowers, the squirrels.

Thank you for coming to Lloyd this morning. Thank you for listening to the words of my heart, for sharing these things with me.

I absolutely mean that. I hear your whispers, too.

It is all one. Of that, I am most certain.


  1. your writing this morning is like a prayer that animals might delight in...honoring the moment, wind, sky and flower. acknowledging the depth in all living things. breathing into the grey old blanket and rising like perfect renewal.
    this is what you give me, lifting the veil of your heartspeak, lifts in turn mine.


  2. I am sending you and Owen a book about squirrels that I believe he will adore, if you don't know it already.

  3. I love the comparison of squirrels to toddlers at a funeral.

  4. Here, my camellia is in deep slumber. Thank you for those gorgeous pictures of yours, they brightened my day. As does the poetry of your morning post. xox

  5. Squirrels are by default pesky... They are not very social and will fight for the food on the feeder. They are very persistent in chasing each other for kill... But I like them, and yes, we feed them. They are such characters. I believe that all animals are characters if we would take the time to look and listen to them. Nice post!
    Love the picture in the hen house! Funny the egg/nest story!

  6. And we shall call her "Woman of the Chickens" and she shall walk among us and....
    Sorry, I couldn't resist. My husband always used to tell me I could fuck up a wet dream. In his loving sort of way.
    This is a beautiful post Mary!

  7. Good morning to you Mary. Thank you for telling me your morning story. Vivid with details....

    My hens are still not ready to lay even though they appear to be through molting. I think adding the two young ones in October threw the balance off for the girls.

  8. The camelias are just about done here. We planted bulbs yesterday that will bloom soon enough if the temperature remains warm. A cold snap is on the way but it won't last too long.
    Hens are cool. I wonder if they think like wild turkeys. Watched My Life as a Turkey which was wonderful. Those Florida oak hammocks are beautiful.

  9. rebecca- You are such a poet, such a love.

    Elizabeth- We have no squirrel books! Thank-you so much!

    Stephanie- They run around like kids on crack.

    Jo- It was a lovely morning, even in the gray.

    Liv- Your camellias will awaken too.

    Photocat- It is so much easier to be charmed by animals than by humans. Generally.

    Rubye Jack- I would love to known as Woman of the Chickens!

    Ellen- Who knows? They can be mysterious creatures.

    Syd- Yeah, that guy, Joe Hutto is from here. That's all local. Cool, huh? And I'll bet it's your sasangua camellias which are done. The Japonicas are not yet really blooming.


Tell me, sweeties. Tell me what you think.