Friday, May 25, 2012


WHAT DO YOU DO WHEN YOU WAKE UP TO DISASTER? Do you carefully set aside the last four eggs for hatching? Or do you decide to savor them one by one? Do you replay the night before in your head over and over, thinking how you could have changed one little thing, and that would have made the difference? Do you curse the world or yourself or another? Or do you vow to be more organized, stronger, smarter, kinder, from here on out? Do you mourn what you've lost? Or claim what remains to you?

 Yesterday morning I woke to a long streak of feathers blown across the yard, and a worrisome quietness. I opened the lid of the coop to a sad vista. Not the gruesome scene of a weasel attack, with headless bodies lying limp. No, this was, I think, the work of coyotes. The coop door hanging open, piles of down in the corners of nest boxes, on the floor. The smell of feathers hangs in the air. I walk around the yard, calling for survivors. Maybe some managed to run under the shelter of the cedar grove, where they hide when they see a hawk circling. Maybe someone made it to the machine shed. The yard remains quiet and I find brave Chaucer lying still in the bed of poppies. His lovely red comb and wattles are stark against the green, the heads of poppies keeping quiet watch. He has kept his feathers, but the back of his neck is bloodied, his feet stretched out behind him. I imagine the heavy spurs landed some blows before he was caught. He would have fought bravely to protect his flock.

 I look out into the cornfield, now softly striped with fuzzy rows of green, new life emerging. Another spray of feathers halfway to the grass waterway shows where the dogs had their picnic. I sigh and return to the house. Sadness sweeps over me, but I can't let it defeat me. I've been here before. I know that living in the country comes with joys, but the country can also extract a price. I can't really be angry with predators who are just expressing their nature. In fact, predators help us keep an equilibrium. Coyotes, possums, skunks, hawks, weasels all eat chickens, yes. But they also eat rats, mice, and even rabbits whose gentle persona belies their capacity for destruction if they are not kept in balance by predation.

In the kitchen I find four eggs from yesterday. Two are white, one tan, one a deep brown. I could set these in an incubator and in three weeks have some chicks. Or I could eat these, and buy some day old chicks already hatched. What to do? Either way, it will be a good, long time before I have fresh eggs in my kitchen to coddle again. Perhaps December. I look out into the yard to consider. I see the summer laid out in front of me, full of opportunity. The sweet rocket is at its peak; Daisies are just beginning to bloom. Peonies are tight round bulbs ready to burst into a full blossom. My new iris varieties are beginning to open. These are two-tone—one has lower petals of deep purple, upper petals a soft lavender—another is purple and brown. One opened with buttery yellow blossoms, another is just beginning to reveal petals of a deep, almost black, crepe.

Further out I see the brown and green corduroy fields of corn, lines going straight back to the fence row. Yes, my summer is all laid out, full of opportunity. These four eggs each contain a rich, yellow yolk. If I crack them open I will see a tiny circle with a small, bright dot in the center. If I crack the eggs open, they will be delicious. If I keep them warm and turn them three times a day for 21 days, I will have 4 chicks. Either way, these four eggs are full of possibility. What would you do?

Await Beauty; Balance Peace; Blessed Be.

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