After much internal dialogue and self-centered arguing between my left and right brains, in May, I decided to return to my field, the work I did prior to making my little people.
This was a tough decision. As much as I love creating characters and exchanges between them, I needed to re-up my credentials or lose them forever.
I would have to write into the wee hours like I did when I first started–Putting words together if only to amuse myself. I’d laugh so hard that I’d wake my poor husband who’s response was always, "You’re so weird. Go to sleep." But as my mother says, "There are worse things in life than enjoying one’s own company." She also makes herself laugh when nobody’s looking.
This morning I was studying for a clinical exam that will take place next Wednesday. A two-hundred and forty minute test…staring into a computer in a hard plastic chair…hoping to get at least 80% or I will not only be humiliated, but will lose my nice, new job that was offered only because I’d easily passed the same exam twice in the past. Of course, that was when I only had two kids and my husband was home during the week.
As a sat, reading an 800-page book of not-so-light reading, I began to stare off, focusing on a field beyond the French doors in my study. Two perfectly fragile white butterflies were playing hide-and-seek between persimmon poppies framing a gray weathered outbuilding that could be toppled over with the slightest hint of a nor’easter.
As I took in the butterflies, I couldn’t help but smile and watch for several minutes– That is, until my little slice of paradise was interrupted by what sounded like a screeching raccoon throw-down.
But it wasn’t raccoons. It was two of my hens doing Kung-Fu Panda moves on each other. Only, one of the hens was about five pounds (Heavy-weight) and the other less breasty hen, about three (Bantam weight).
Poor Clementine. Since she was born she was a rather scared and pathetic little bird. She’s at the bottom of the pecking order and well-may have put herself there by submitting too much from the get go. She’s always eaten after the other chickens have had their full and she’ll run away if another chicken even starts to glance at her sideways. Worse yet, she’s molting and only half covered. Poor thing looks scrawny and homeless.
The noise got bigger, so I ran outside and over to the chicken run, increasingly faster as feathers flew and one bird pummeled another.
A French hen (Gloria) had decided that little Clem would be her *%$#% today. And by the time I got the gate open and shut, Clem was shaking, hiding in bramble as Gloria taunted her, bouncing atop of the mess of tree branches and thorny brush, trying to get Clem out from hiding. Clem was TKO yet Gloria pounced from atop the ropes with the hopes of an ever-victorious rematch.
Chickens aren’t known for being especially empathetic. They often pick at (and ultimately kill and feast on) other sick birds. They snap at each other and even push other hens out of a nesting box if the residing bird isn’t birthing an egg fast enough to suit the next in line. Chickens are opportunists.
But today, one of my hens went against popular chicken psychology. She challenged dinosaur DNA and pack mentality to come to Clem’s aid. "Fiesty" our Barred Rock who easily weighs that of a full-sized Tom (turkey, not Thomas), had tired of Gloria’s antics and initiated an offense that sent Gloria herself, into hiding. When Gloria emerged from under the coop to torment Clem a little more, Feisty jumped on her again, biting the back of Gloria’s throat, helping along the molting process. Gloria indeed looks like a plucked chicken now.
I was proud of Fiesty, a bird that’s always seemed more glutton than guardian to me. But today she taught me that even the most age-old behaviors can be modified, given the proper catalyst. Despite the fact that her inherent primal drive tells her to join in and pick on the weak, Feisty chose to do the right thing. She doesn’t especially like Clem, but she defended Clem because it was the right thing to do.
Doing the right thing is something I’m struggling with today. I’m charged with choosing someone I loathe to save the future of our Supreme Court. Voting for a pig is not what I’m wired to do, but it’s the right thing for my kids and our nation.
So I will plug my nose, channel my inner Feisty, stand up, and fight.
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