Friday, April 6, 2012

THREE DUCKS AND A CHICKEN

There was a knock at our front door yesterday, late afternoon. It's an unusual occurrence, here in the city, and when it happens it's most frequently someone asking for a donation or a signature on a political petition. Ellie and I were just back from a gallery outing, and I had been sweating out the toxins of the day in the little sauna off our bedroom--a blessed inheritance from the previous owner of our house. So there was, fresh out of the shower and in my dressing gown, trudging upstairs to answer the doorbell and steeling myself for the familiar sight of a solicitor with a fake smile and a clipboard...

So I was surprised, on opening the door, to find myself confronted by two very small girls, all nervous and twittering with excitement and polite. It was our neighbor's daughter, Zoe, and a friend. Zoe explained that one of their chickens had escaped into our yard, could they please go down to catch it and bring it home?

Well, I had been hearing a loud, indignant clucking right outside my study window, and had been surprised that it sounded so close; but I had assumed, of course, that the bird was right behind the high, thin fence that separates our yards. So we trooped down to the back yard, the three of us, I in my dressing gown and started hunting for the chicken amongst the plants and undergrowth. I had my doubts as to whether little Zoe would be able to catch her even if we found her, but still, I was ready to lend a hand if need be.

The chicken proved not hard to find. She was down near the bottom of the garden, skittering around and fussing nervously, obviously aware that she was on unfamiliar territory. A fine bird, too, beady-eyed and with a shiny plumage of small black and white feathers in a neat, tight pattern. I should have had more faith in Zoe, who managed to scoop the chicken up efficiently into her arms and cart her up the steps and out the back gate without a ruffled feather or a protest from the hen.

I had scarcely settled back down again before there was another knock at the door. Zoe was back, with her friend, and two lovely, fresh brown eggs. She was sorry they were cold, she said; they had been in the refrigerator. Fresh eggs for breakfast, then, this morning. A rare treat!

Oh, and those ducks? They were wild ones. I spotted them this morning early, when I was out on the street, for George's morning poop walk. I looked up, and there they were, the three of them, flying fast and high in neat formation against the pale blue of the sky, headed north. And I thought, how beautiful just to catch a glimpse of these wild creatures in their flight. How fortunate for them, to be wild and free...

3 comments:

WITTY WALKERS said...

Peter, It´s 3 a.m here in Barcelona a and I have not been able to stop and go to bed but I will now thanks to your beautifully told story, calms me down, halts unstoppable energy ,sends me quietly off to bed! Thank you!

robin andrea said...

Nice to know that there are young girls in the city growing up with chickens! That's such a hopeful thing. And ducks flying over! A wonderful sight.

PeterAtLarge said...

Hello, Michel... Glad I put you off to sleep!

Yes, Robin, we do live in the wilds, here in LA! Thanks for checking in.