Tragedy to Cheer
July 13, 2008
At our mailbox, I picked up our mail and the Saturday island newspaper. The lead story described the sentencing of a woman to jail for seven years. With a long history of drunken driving arrests in her past, a year ago she got in her car with a blood alcohol level 300% over the legal limit and raced down the highway out of control until she hit the car of a mother driving home to reach her two children. The mother never made it home. She was killed instantly in the collision estimated at a combined speed of 100 miles per hour.
As I walked back down the gravel road, I saw the Friendly Neighbor walking toward me on the way to his mailbox. As I remembered to ask him about the egg-bound hen, I forgot my gloom over the newspaper story and asked him how the chicken was doing.
“She’s fine,” he reported cheerfully. “It took her three days, but the egg finally came through. The interesting thing is that all the time she crouched in the bushes, clucking in discomfort, at least one of the other hens would take turns crouching beside her, clucking to her. It seemed like the other hens were comforting and encouraging her.”
We contemplated the intelligence and solidarity of the free run chickens with admiration. He happily added, “The chickens are laying very well now; we get up to four eggs a day. Some eggs are very small; others are quite large.”
He added more to my chicken lore. “I’ve been picking our strawberries. The chickens like berries. I always have some ruined by slugs and other pests, so I toss them to the chickens. Now, one chicken waits by the gate. When she sees me coming, she starts a quiet, low clucking. The other hens hear her and start running to the gate to get their share of the berries.”
I told him about Random Granddaughter and how she explained to me after leaving her visit to their chickens and ducks how a butterfly emerges from a chrysalis.
“That’s a very smart little girl,” he said with admiration. “She listens and follows instructions very well. I gave her a peanut to feed the squirrel. First she was waving the nut around, but when I suggested she hold it still, she did as I said and let the squirrel take the nut. Then we told her how to pet the chickens, and she did that very gently and calmly.”
I explained how she had been practicing petting with Sylvie, her mommies’ affectionate cat, the ideal child-training pet.
“I had a nice talk with her mom as well,” he continued. “Her Mommy is a very interesting and intelligent woman. We can tell that RG is a child who’s received a great deal of love and attention.
“They’re certainly welcome to visit us any time. I hope your daughter can come as well next time.” In a reassuring manner, he added, “You and your wife are welcome, also.” I thanked him, silently glad to know that we are regarded as fit company to visit along with the stellar Random Granddaughter. We shook hands and parted in the cheerful July sunlight.