What came first - the chicken, the egg, or the bag of concrete?
My eldest, Fergus, and I are pretty good pals. I like his company. He makes me laugh. He’s not afraid to challenge me, and obviously sometimes I drive him crazy. Though, if we’re honest, what’s the point in actually having kids if you don’t get to annoy them?
When he’s around the house he helps me with the chickens and he proofreads my blog - so if there are typos and spelling mistakes in anything you’ve read so far, it’s completely his fault.
Earlier this week as we were off collecting eggs, he mentioned that of late he’s found my blog ‘overly inspirational.’
“One Marianne Williamson is enough. Nobody needs another one. Especially not a Scottish one.”
“Ooh,” I said, “am I writing too many memes?”
He cringed disgustedly, because I pronounced the word meme MEHM as opposed to MEEM which is how the kids all say it, apparently. I did it intentionally. I always do it intentionally. It’s very satisfying. My kids find it almost as disturbing as when I used to try to do the floss dance.
“I am just saying maybe you could try writing something that didn’t have a point to it,” he said.
I replied that I’d spent a great deal of my career writing things with no particular point to them, to which he said - rather sarcastically I thought - that that would be impossible because I’m always so ‘teachy’.
I would have responded with something witty and wise and totally “un-teachy” but when I opened the nesting box, Bruiser was in one of them sitting on a bunch of eggs. Unimpressed at being disturbed, she let out a less than charming squawk.
Bruiser’s the eldest of our chickens. She got her name because she hatched first and had a tendency to plunge forward into situations without much thought. Now she’s fully grown, she spends so much time trying to hatch random eggs, we should have called her Brooder.
“God’s sake, Bruiser, not again. Can’t you just wander about being a chicken instead of always having to prove something? ”
Looking across at Fergus, I noticed he was smiling very smugly. And that is how we agreed that I would write this week’s blog about chickens and it wouldn’t be in the least bit ‘inspirational’.
So, here we go:
We have 10 chickens - well, 9 and a rooster. We hatched most of them from eggs during a particularly bleak part of the pandemic when we wished to remind ourselves that amidst the bleakest of times, there’s always birth. (apologies - I forgot myself)
I never expected them have personalities. I thought they’d just be…well…chickens but they really are individuals. (I could say here something about how all living creatures have different perspectives and that’s what makes up life’s giant tapestry - but I won’t because I’m a rule follower.)
Norma for example - the wee ginger chicken - is always up for some drama. Whenever there’s tussle, she's somewhere in the middle of it providing a running commentary. She’s never knowingly laid an egg without announcing her achievements to the whole neighborhood. It’s hard to not to admire her feathery enthusiasm. She's like a wee bundle of feathery PR.
However, seeing the whole world only as an extension of herself, she kept pecking the other chickens’ eggs. There comes a point in life when you have to lay down boundaries. (That’s not inspirational, by the way. That’s just a fact) In the end, we had to put a concrete egg in the coup. She pecked it once and the problem stopped.
On the downside, another problem began. The concrete egg attracted the attention of Bruiser, who appears to see it as a challenge.
Margaret, Senga, and Peggy are beautiful snow white birds who go everywhere in a team. They stick together like glue. What one of them does, they all do. It’s hard to tell them apart - especially from a distance - so we generally refer to them as ‘the white trash.’
Nuggets and Poggers are like mad professors. They lay blue-green eggs and keep their distance. Nuggets is the chicken who most enjoys a cuddle, though she probably wouldn’t if she knew the meaning of her name.
Then, there’s Margo, the surreptitious chicken. She fits in everywhere but not with anyone in particular. She moves from group to group with ease. If Margo wasn’t a chicken, she’d make a great spy.
Genghis, is our rooster. I've heard talk about crazy aggressive roosters attacking people. Genghis likes to be hand-fed spaghetti, though he’d fight to the death to save his girls. He's followed by Shelley all the time. She’s a veritable egg-laying Uriah Heep.
And then, of course, there's Bruiser.
“The thing is,” I said to Ferg as we went out to get eggs yesterday, “When you don’t have a point to a story, it’s just a list. And when anybody talks about their lives there’s always a point because we all live different lives. If my stuff sounds ‘teachy’ it’s because I’m talking about what it is to be me and nobody knows more about what that is, than me.”
Ferg eyed me calmly, “Have you had your first cup of tea yet?” he asked.
He nodded and smiled. “No reason.”
“Look, I am just saying that in life, people are doing and saying meaningful things all the time. They just don’t write them down. So they don't notice. If people were to write down every Sunday what happened to them that week, you can bet it would be inspirational.”
Ferg picked up the eggbox and went to open the coop.
“And a meme is just a moment in that. It's one single thought one person had as a response to something real. If you take any one single thought and lay it out in text over a photograph, that makes it profound. But it was inspirational all on its own to start with.”
Fergus opened the nesting box. Bruiser squawked furiously and, surprised, he jumped.
“Goddammit, Bruiser! ” he said. “You know, there is a difference between optimism and trying to hatch a concrete egg!”
As soon as it was out his mouth, he knew what he’d done. He looked at me. I returned his look, very smugly.
“That would look so lovely over a nice picture of an egg amongst some hay,” I said.
And that is how we agreed on the picture for this week’s blog.
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