Confession. For the most part, if it isn’t human and it moves, I’m scared of it. Even our cat, who left us for the great litter box in the sky last March, exploited this cowardice. For ten years she dove, claws extended, for my legs. When I sat, she aimed for my neck. “She’s fresh,” the vet said. You think? After our Winkie succumbed to kitty diabetes last March, I vowed I’d never own another pet.
Consider that, as I tell you that over the weekend, I interviewed a woman who raises backyard chickens, leaving with a dozen fresh eggs on the seat beside me and a smile stretched across my face.
I always say yes when an editor reaches out to me, even though most times, I hiccup and think, but I don’t know anything about…fill in the blank. This time—the topic was chickens. The story is about a garden designer who purchased her first chicks for the sh—ah, fertilizer, and fell in love with the birds.
It’s the latest feature article I’ll get credit for writing, though in truth this one wrote itself. How could it not, when a woman wearing a chicken T-shirt and a rooster belt-buckle, serves me warm-from-the-oven cookies, baked with fresh eggs? Or when she describes riding around town on her bike, delivering eggs from a basket over her handlebars? Or on witnessing her crow of delight when she discovers her favorite six-year-old hen has produced its first sage-green egg in two months, in time for me to hold it—warm.
Her “girls” became creatures with personality. Petunia, of the green egg, who comes when she is called, and follows her mistress around the yard. Another, who’s name I forget, who gets “broody” and sits on her eggs for days, unaware interaction with a rooster is required if she's going to hatch them. For the first time in my life, I stroked a chicken’s soft feathers, admiring Buff Orpintons, a Speckled Succex, and Brahmas with fluffy, feathered legs.
Interview over, I made omelets for my daughter and me for lunch, both of us stunned by the mouth feel of hours-old eggs—a creamy richness that spoiled me for supermarket eggs in one go. All afternoon, I couldn’t stop thinking about everything chicken, sitting down to pound out the story with the joy that comes from writing about someone who communicates passion.
After a fried egg sandwich Sunday morning, I even spent a minute or two daydreaming about whether it might ever be possible for me to cope with a coop.