a hello and a goodbye


Ah.  It feels great to have a home again on the internet. It took me a while to feel comfortable with the idea of putting my work online.  I have started writing, then self-editing, which has often led to self-deleting. I will freely admit, I don't like the idea of someone judging my work (and maybe judging me).  I just don't.  I would probably not be a great pig at a county fair.

But I am braving my dislike of judgement because I have been spending the past year rekindling my loves of cooking, painting, and creating, and I have many things to share with you in addition to even more things to try.



I'm very happy to be here and even happier to see you.

But before I begin this officially, I want to say goodbye to a very special little creature who has been a part of my life for the past year and a half.

Her name was Blue, and she was my chicken.

Now, we have four other chickens, but Blue was special.  She was special in appearance, because she was a Giant Blue Cochin with incredible feathers down to her feet, while our other ladies are all bare-legged.  When she was a baby, the feathers on her feet grew more quickly than the rest of her, and she looked like she was wearing clown shoes.

But Blue was also just... special.  She would do this thing when she walked around where all of a sudden her wings would shoot up high next to her head and then settle back down (every time we saw it happen, we would yell "Touchdown!").  She also made little trumpeting noises that sounded like someone playing the "DOO-do-DOOOOO" noise on a kazoo.  When our Dominique hen was sick and not eating or drinking, Blue would sit next to her under the coop and keep the other hens from pecking at her.  And she liked to hop up on my lap and look me in the eye for a good long minute before tucking her head into her feathered poof of a body and falling asleep.

And then one day last week I came outside and four of the chickens were scratching in the dirt for sunflower seeds, but the poof of blue feathers was nestled in a little hole in the sun with her eyes closed and I sat and watched her for five minutes, neither of us moving, until I opened the door of the run and picked her up as gently as I could and carried her inside.

I sat on the kitchen floor and held her for a while.  I was alone, and it was very quiet, and she was still warm (from being alive?  From the sun?) and soft.  Even though she would fall asleep on our laps, she didn't like us to touch her of our own accord.  It felt strange to hold her and feel the places where her stiff, satin feathers turned to down.  She seemed very heavy, but also light, and I found myself wondering, as I cried, if she weighed 7 pounds or eight or maybe more, and how much of that was feathers and how much was bird and how much did that chicken weigh that I roasted last week and how big were our other chickens and were they all at the peak of their size or were they slowly going down and had Blue been sick and had I not noticed...

We buried her in the front yard next to one of the boysenberry plants.  I wanted to put her in a place where she liked to take dust baths, but Richard very gently pointed out that that was now Lucca's favorite place to dig holes, and it wouldn't be very practical to put Blue there only to have Lucca dig her up again, now would it?  So she is under a pine tree near boysenberries and strawberries and a very pretty English rose, and I put some kale and grapes and sunflower seeds in the hole with her before we covered her up.  So I hope that, if there is an afterlife, and it takes chickens, she is very, very happy.

If Blue taught me one thing, it is that our food has personality.  Chickens enjoy living!  They can be sad, and they can love each other.  They can recognize the people who feed them and the people who don't mind when they muddy up shirts by riding around on shoulders, and they recognize when someone is only visiting the coop to change the water, not to play.  They get very excited by goji berries and grasshoppers, and clean their yogurt snack off of each others' feathers when someone flings it around.  They warn each other of danger, and worry when one of their friends is sick.  They quarrel many (MANY) times throughout the day, but in the evening snuggle next to each other while they sleep.  We, as people, could take a few notes from chickens.

You are probably wondering, will I still eat chickens?  Yes. But I will buy chickens like that knew the sunshine and tasted grass.  I will buy chickens that had room for touchdowns and dust baths.  Maybe, at one point in their life, they even fell asleep on someone's lap.

This I will do because I love Blue.