It isn’t just because the temperature is 60 degrees, or that the daffodils are getting  ready to open. It’s because the chickens have been removed from the patio. It’s interesting that on the tiny, local level time and events can get a bit twisted. I grew up in Minneapolis where cows still grazed  in a square city block of land fenced in  by wrought iron. The owners lived in mansion across the street, and I have no memory of the time when it existed as the only grand house on the street. As far as I know, that day the cows left Minneapolis was the day domestic animals left the city  and me with the impression that animals I eat will never eat the grass in my back yard. Actually I had a goat. It is probably obvious that I called this little goat Nanny. It may also be obvious that I was the kind of child that did not like the word kid applied to children. What did I do with the little goat? I dressed it up in a doll bonnet and wheeled it around the block in my doll buggy. In the fall they took it back to the farm, and talked during the winter about how they hadn’t needed to mow the lawn. And that was really the end of domestic animals in the city.

In San Jose where I worked a few years later you could get sent to jail for having chickens in the yard. All these actions had been recommended by the public health authorities who believed that unsanitary domestic animals caused disease. Nostalgia ruled. Friends talked about the old days when you could have chickens in the yard. Not me. I believed that the best animal was the one on the farm. Uncle Leonard took me to the State Fair.

Give her a cup of milk. he said to the boy with the cow. Horrified I watched the boy hold a cup under the cow’s udder. Horrified I watched the milk, steaming hot, running into the cup. He handed the cup of hot milk to me and I pretended to taste it, handed it back.

What’s the matter?

I can’t drink it, I said.  It isn’t pasteurized.

Long years pass. Children are taken on visits to the farm to see the pigs and cows. They go to the fair and watch the oxen pull heavy loads. They go to the chicken house and sometimes gingerly pat a hen. Daughters ride their bikes to the hiefer auction. They fetch water and spear hay on huge forks, as you watch the tables turning.. You can’t believe what you see, which is the newest thing, as new as the ipad. The daughters want to buy locally. They want chickens in the yard.  While war is learning how to select the right victims, the computer picks a husband and an airplane is designed that can take people on vacation to Mars and the moon, others of us reach back to recover what seems to us to be the peace of former times. These forays into the past help us rest. The chickens newly okayed by the City Council peck over the back lawn, eating the bugs that plague us come real spring; flowers with shallow roots wilt and fall over and Jim comes around with a few eggs. They’re laying again. He hands an egg over, It is warm from the hen’s body. It, like you, like me, has passed into the light; Here, he says, have it for lunch.

Not if I can help it. I’d like a poached egg on toast, but I’d prefer to take one out of the egg carton in the fridge. I am not so greedy for  simplicity as I thought I was. And thank goodness he and Betsy carried the chicken coop far away from the house, and I can dare step out the back door and on the patio on bare feet. It’s a good life.


About dorothybloom

Well, I'm a bit on the elderly side , but I'm fighting the decline with my entry into the virtual world. I've been thinking for while that my situation is worth talking a, and for this reason. There is a tension between old and new. The old are intent upon keeping their authority and the young are intent on getting it for themselves. hereThis tension is as old as the Neanderthal and many of his four-legged cousins. And I want to explore that.
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  1. Alexa Mills says:

    In urban planning school you learn that density is best for everyone. Highrises are the most sustainable. Now eastern Japan, starting on a ‘clean slate’, is talking about small villages with homegrown food, where residents telecommute and don’t spend to much time in cars.

    I guess a person never knows what’s right!

    • dorothybloom says:

      I think one thing the disciplines forget is that 100% doesn’t. exist.In th case pf Japan environment should dictate at least some of the way planning is donw. I”m talking villagea of course, but when you think of it the vilage is the hgome of culture which is carried by individuals leavihe city ahnd carrying bits and pieces of village culture with them. I want to talk about this more. Love Grandmang t

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