Old Fashioned Hazards in A Modern World

You really can’t get out ahead trying to buck nature. I made the mistake of believing that we had it under control, felt that we were ahead of the game of taking care of the house and garden, while the family was away. By last evening I had gone out to dinner to prove it. With Nancy’s huge help the vegetable garden was planted in a timely fashion, the forget-me-nots pulled and mulched, the yellow flags bloomed along with stately lupin and the pink puffs of meadow rue. Half nibbled basil had begun the recovery process and everything had the look of tender care and growing prosperity.

I have an easy optimism; in my mind one swallow could make a summer, so that it is not surprising that as Cody, our vacation helper, went off on his Senior Day, and I went  to dinner with a light heart, more sinister events gathered in a dark place where misfortune is born. Cody had appointed his mother, Sue, and his sister Irene, to take over his duties for the day. I knew that Teddy’s walk with Irene had gone well. Irene fed the chickens and ran with Teddy, down to the creek for a swim and fresh water to drink, and off for a mile or so through the park. When he bounced in, his damp coat curled and fetid smells wafted about. He asked politely for his treat and flopped. Sue fed Teddy and the cats at dinner time, and she was disturbed powerful noise of fear and anger from up the hill ,where the chickens now lived. But the awful noise stopped ,and Sue went home comfortable in thinking all was well.

All did seem to be well. We slept well. And at seven when Cody crossed the back lawn to feed the chickens, I went out to discuss mowing with him, but he stood at the gate in  state of wonder. He yelled.

There’s only one chicken!

Oh well. I yelled back. She’s probably hiding in the coop.

But she was not hiding. She wasn’t doing anything anywhere as far as we could see. Cody reconnoitered all over the hill. He found only one clue, a lone black feather by the gate. The reason for such a complete absence of chicken was very hard to imagine. Had she somehow escaped from the fenced-in area the question would where could she have gone?  Imagine the surprise it would be if a neighbor  discovered a formerly unsuspected chicken rooting around among the Lamium and St. John’s Wort. Without any doubt word would be passed, blame assigned. But there was no sign of a struggle. And the chicken really was gone. No sign of any kind anywhere. Cody went home and I ate breakfast, but there is no rest for the wicked. Is it all about me? My guilt? My wish for a chicken disaster?

How many millions of times did I say, I”m going to kill that chicken, or I”ll wring that chicken’s neck. I shared my concerns with a checker at Price Chopper.

I’ll bet it was a hawk, she said.

In spite of progress, in spite of the internet and its amazing successes, of riding mowers, of tight security protecting  enormous quantities of foods and building materials, nature produced a hawk that needed somthing to eat and that hawk came over to our yard at twilight, dipped down its great wings, extended its powerful claws and swooped up our terrified chicken (too civilized by half), carrying it a mile ot two away to its nest on a tall tree by the resevoir. If we could find that tree with that nest, we could find four satisfied baby hawks and the bare bones of our of our chicken

It is clear that nature has challenged us either to get along or risk disaster. Where hurricanes and tornadoes, droughts and floods have not been able to express a clear idea of nature’s intention, the sudden death of a chicken could explain it in simple terms. It is that we cannot fight nature, because like the chickens and the forests and every thing we encounter every day, we are all equally part of the mysterious power that in our hubris we control. The sooner we realize that nature is our boss and not our servant, that is when we’ll all be better able to get along with the rest of creation.



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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6 Responses to Old Fashioned Hazards in A Modern World

  1. Patty Biggs says:

    Hi Dorothy,
    I had several experiences w/the family chickens last week on my visit. Read my entries on facebook-it will give you a chuckle. I can hook you up if you want some more chickens or eggs, just let me know.

  2. Nancy Bloom says:

    This is strangely dramatic and I already knew the whole story. Even the part about the feather. I think this is the best one you ever wrote.

  3. Libby McDonald says:

    I am constantly thinking about the power of nature–how it bosses us around. You summed it up so beautifully in the story of your chicken. I am going to read your post to my kids at dinner tonight. It’ll remind us all of Joseph, our wicked and mean rooster. Although he terrorized us, we were too soft hearted to turn him into soup.

  4. ofra says:

    I think you actually just wrote a beautiful short story, Dorothy. I loved the drama and the feelings it evoked. much love, ofra

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