Thursday, December 26, 2013

Magic on Christmas Day

     Farm chores don't take holidays.
     In the chicken coop on Christmas day, therefore, Carmine and I raked the dirt floor and scrubbed the waterers.  There were no eggs in the nesting cubicles.  But three hens were sitting in their boxes fluttering their wings like prima donnas with fans in anticipation of a symphony concert.
     We had just filled the food bins with organic layer mix when one of the Auracanas stood up, made a trill to get our attention, and dropped a green egg into the hay.
     Hens are private about egg-laying.  Last year I was determined to see an egg being laid, so I stood quietly in the chicken coop for an hour or two at a time, one day after another.  Most of the time the hens blinked resolutely at me, then got off their nests and went about other business, pecking at new blades of grass or waddling over the lumpy compost pile.  They wanted to be left alone when delivering their bounty.  I saw the process of egg-laying only once.
     Carmine grabbed the egg still hot and sticky from between the hen's feet.
     Then a Brahma stood up in an adjacent nest, squawked, and, ogling us, produced a pink egg--just like that.
     Had they choreographed this green and pink egg performance?
     I imagined them prattling to one another from after dark on Christmas Eve.
     "Now, wait until they come into the henhouse tomorrow, however late."
     "I can't wait, when an egg is rolling down the chute!"
     "Yes, you can.  Grow up, punk!  This is important."
     "And just as those two are filling the feed bin, Greenie, call out  to them and drop the green egg."
     "Yeah, don't make it one of those pale blue ones this time."
     "And make sure the 'plunk' is audible, or they'll miss it."
     "Yeah, all right, all right, enough now."
     "She gets the message.:
     "Then, Pinkie, wait exactly sixty seconds, position yourself, and do the same thing.  Make it a super pink egg."
     "And choose a clean nest--that one, over there."
     "Christmas is not a time for messy eggs."
     "And if they're not looking at you, sing a cluck-song right before the gift."
     "It's Christmas, you know."
     "That sort of thing is important to them."
     "Gifts, decorations, green, red, magic."
     "They don't seem to realize that every egg is magic."
     "We're doing this to remind them.  Humans are kind of dense."
     "I know what she'll say, cuz she's spooky like that."
     "'This can't be a coincidence.'"
     "Yeah, shell say that.
     "And:  'This must have special meaning.'"
     "She'll say that, too."
     "So what?  She feeds us every day.  Can't you be nice for a change?"
     "Leave her alone.  She's okay.  I kind of like her."
     "Now, get some sleep.  And don't forget your parts."
     That morning, after the production, I saw the pink and green eggs in Carmine's hand and was awed.
     "Did you chickens plan this thing?"
     "Cluck.  Cluck."
     "It can't be a coincidence," I said to Carmine, regarding the eggs like the Queen's jewels.
     The hens jumped down from their boxes and headed into the sunlight.
     They were finished.  How had they managed to time it like this?
     "It must have meaning," I said.
     I scraped some oat groats left over from breakfast into their bowls.
     "You girls are really special," I said.
     They gathered round, all twenty-two of my glossy hens, and it seemed to me they bowed to me like leading ladies, before digging in.

1 comment:

  1. Red and green are the colors of Christmas because of what they symbolize. Red symbolizes Christ's blood and his death, given up for us to help us stop justifying sacred violence. And green symbolizes life, everlasting life (as in the evergreen Christmas tree) another gift.