Tuesday, January 24, 2012


Gifts from the flock.

IN BIRDLAND, WINTER HAS FINALLY SETTLED IN FOR A VISIT, but it came late and by the time it arrived, the days were already growing longer. Although it is cold, the spring seems almost on the horizon. Look! Here comes Groundhog Day, my favorite holiday: The day we can decide for ourselves whether we will suffer six more weeks of Winter, or celebrate the six weeks of the coming Spring. Or, maybe we can even celebrate the remaining weeks of Winter as we anticipate the Spring.
Leaden clouds march across the sky.

Today the sun shines off and on.

 Today the sun shines off and on. Leaden clouds march across the sky, and maybe we will get more snow. The little bit left on the ground is embedded with a thin layer of black topsoil, Illinois' riches, blowing across the Midwest. The goldenrod stalks still stand in the meadow, maybe emitting or reflecting a little bit of warmth? The snow has melted in little circles around each bunch of stalks.

She now understands
the natural order of things.

The chickens were eager to be let out of the coop this morning. The defroster under their water dish had quit in the night, and their water was frozen. They poured out of the door and ran to the little pond, only to find it frozen. I figured out the problem pretty quickly and ran to get them a temporary bowl of steaming water until I could figure out what went wrong on the de-icer. Meanwhile, Ursula kept her distance. We have finally solved the problem of our chicken chasing dog. After some very focused behavior modification, she now understands the natural order of things: that the red rooster is the undisputed king of the yard. She used to think his protective stance was a game, and sadly, she had so little respect, and such quick reflexes, that when he would fly at her in attack mode, she would grab him and run around the yard with him in her mouth. Great fun for somebody! Not so much for the rooster.

Now, however, she keeps her distance from him. This is a very recent development, and last week, when the flock stayed inside for several days, protected from the bitter, frigid wind, I worried that she might forget her place, and indeed, she did. I opened the coop from the top to gather eggs and feed the flock, when the little black and white speckled hen jumped out. Ursula was after her in a flash. I yelled and started to run after them, but then the red rooster emerged and flew to the rescue. As soon as she saw him, Ursula immediately sat down by a tree and nothing could entice her to move, not spilled chicken feed, not the frisbee, not the rest of the hens streaming from the coop to scratch in the yard. The red rooster strutted around her, and she looked demurely at her paws. When he was satisfied that Ursa would do no mischief, he left her and joined the hens. My dog sat quietly until I finished my chicken chores and then followed me back toward the house. I didn't let her in, though. Her new job description includes keeping at bay the hawk who's been picking off my hens, one by one.
You look closer and see it is
standing above a clutch of.
brown, speckled eggs.
Today, a frigid wind blows from the north, carrying crystals of snow. Not enough to stick, but tiny crystals that hit you in the face on their way south as you go down to collect the mail. Inside, a few minutes later, you find comfort in cozy things. You put the kettle on for tea and soak garbanzos for tonight's supper. You put on a pan of eggs to boil for Nanny's Purple Eggs. You sit down with your tea and enjoy the postcard that arrived today from Russia. It has an odd looking bird on it, and you wish you knew what kind, but the name is printed in Russian. The bird has green wings and a majestic crest; a black mask and bill, and orange legs. Its tail is squared off, like a chisel. You look closer and see it is standing above a clutch of brown, speckled eggs. You sip your tea and think about the wide world and all it holds.

Sip in Beauty; Anticipate Peace; Blessed Be.

No comments:

Post a Comment