Thursday, February 26, 2009
Spring Is Coming; I Might Need Chickens
I swear, the air is so soft this morning and the sky is so blue I just want to go plant MYSELF in the dirt. I can feel the buds forming, I can feel the dirt warming, I can feel the planet turning, heading towards spring.
This morning, when I was still in bed, contemplating getting up and starting my day, some bird was calling a show-off song that lasted so long I couldn't figure out how he did it without taking a breath. He was like one of those monks that can chant on the inhale as well as the exhale and even to me, a creature not of his species, the message was clear- I am a bird of unnatural and supernatural abilities. Do not mess with me unless you come to mate! And if you come to mate, I will give you the finest of babies, the strongest and most beautiful of babies and I will protect you and I will help you feed and nurture them and our nest will be the showplace of all the county!
Hey. I was impressed.
When I went over to Kathleen's house last week we went to visit her chickens. She has a tidy coop where they live and they all have names and it's a cozy world of a harem- one rooster and four or five hens and yes, a bunny rabbit lives with them, too.
But it was the chickens I adored. They were so glossy and proud and as we stood there, eggs started appearing in Kathleen's hand like magic. Such clean, brown eggs, one, two, three, and I came home and told Mr. Moon that I, too, would like chickens.
We know nothing about chickens. I had a hen once, and a rooster too but that damn hen never laid one egg and the rooster annoyed the snot out of me as his pen was right outside my bedroom window.
Nowadays I love the sound of chickens and roosters. Our next door neighbor has a coop-full and they peck and cluck and the roosters crow on and off all day long. It would be nice to have a few fat hens of our own and a rooster to protect them, I think. I could throw all my kitchen scraps out to them and also the weeds I pull. That darn Betony I spend my life pulling up should be good for something. And of course, I grew up watching Lassie where Timmy's mother was always to be found throwing feed to her chickens and I, too, would like to wear a nice gingham shirtdress and an apron, a bowl in my hands, scattering corn to a flock of happy birds.
Mr. Moon liked the idea a lot. He's wanted chickens for a long time and I've been the one that resisted the idea because- well- one more set of critters I would need to take care of. They need water and food, of course, and fresh hay in their coop and then the old hay has to be forked up and taken out. But I think I'm ready.
We don't even eat that many eggs, but I have four children and they all eat eggs. The egg is not only the perfect food, it is the perfect shape, and it was the image of those warm eggs appearing in Kathleen's hand that I keep going back to. A hand full of chicken eggs seems to me to be some sort of perfection and perfect symbiosis between bird and woman.
I am considering the proposition. I am wondering if it's only spring talking to me, trying to lull me into the idea that I need chickens to create eggs to fulfill some sort of pagan yearning.
Or is it the fact that as we grow older, we become more and more fascinated with birds in general? Or perhaps those black-and-white images of Timmy's mother, the birds clustering around her feet to get at the food she's scattering?
Or is it just the way Kathleen's palm looked as she cradled those eggs her hens seemed to give up so joyfully?
I don't know. We shall see. Mr. Moon has a lot on his plate, so to speak, already and although he says he could build a coop in a day (and I think he probably could), I'm sure it will end up being more work than I imagined.
But maybe not. Maybe it would be a lovely thing. I'd feed them scraps and chicken chow and they'd give me eggs and gentle clucking and their poop for the garden.
I can see the rooster in my mind, strutting and rutting, calling out like that bird I heard this morning to say, "This is mine, this is mine, all you fine girls get in line."
Spring. It'll do crazy things to your head whether you're a wild bird, a domestic bird, or a woman contemplating birds of her own.
I'll let you know.