It was one of the few times that I didn’t have a camera, a situation made more ironic by the fact that most of my visits to this country inn at the center of Arlington Vermont had been to serve in the capacity as wedding photographer.
We went for a birthday party – two actually . My son goes to school with the daughter of the innkeepers, but neither he nor his brother had enjoyed a meal there before, and, when we sat down at our table with our impeccably-prepared meal, he said, “Mom, is this a fancy restaurant?”
The buffet had been beautifully decorated, and expertly-arranged flowers adorned every table. It was a beautiful as any wedding, but without any of the tension that such a momentous ceremony can create. But as we looked around the tent-covered patio and carefully restored barn and gardens, we children cavorting noisily in the paths. We saw the innkeepers’ children showing off their new rabbits. And we saw waitstaff, plucked from the ranks of our neighbors (who could very easily also have been guests), hosting friends rather than customers.
“It’s the fanciest,” I replied. “Where else can you have a meal like this and still get to pet a rabbit?”
We were sitting at our favorite diner a few Saturdays ago when my husband asked, “Do you think we should get a straight pick again?”
We’d had chickens before – sometimes we got the chicks from the feedstore; sometimes as refugees from a school project – so when we accidentally ordered the straight pick a few years ago, we felt pretty confident we could handle life with the three roosters that had made it into our coop. Besides, we knew that baby male chicks are usually macerated at birth, so sparing them might feed our karma a little.
So we brought home our chicks, and because we buy our birds strictly for eggs, we had no qualms about naming all of them. We called the hens, “The Ladies”. They were very similar in appearance (all Rhode Island Reds), and they liked to help me in garden and at the laundry line.
The roosters were easy to differentiate fairly quickly, however, and our boys quickly came up with names. Thing1 named the Red rooster “Red”, and a Barred Rock with feathery feet was named “Fluffy”. Thing2 chose “Chickie” as the name for the smallest of the three roosters, and, in the beginning, the name suited the downy white bird.
Fluffy quickly found a home with a family who wanted to build up their flock, and for a while it seemed as though Chickie and Red would rule the roost jointly. But Mother Nature had different ideas.
Just as the hens started giving us eggs, the roosters started noticing the hens, and, much to our consternation, began demonstrating the facts of life on an hourly basis. With 12 ladies and 2 roosters, you’d think Red and Chickie would have been in seventh heaven, but Roosters, as it happens, will let a woman get between them. And when Red decided to go after one of Chickie’s hens the feathers started flying. The fight escalated quickly, and, as Chickie became more enraged, I realized we were about to be a one-rooster family. I grabbed an old fireplace screen that hadn’t made it to the dump and dropped it between the two combatants. It didn’t stop the fight, but at least Red was safe – for the moment. And I patted myself on the back as I counted my accruing karma units.
Red had never heard of karma, apparently, because just a few short weeks after I had saved his life, he charged me at the laundry line. The attacks became more frequent, and, in the absence of any good books on chicken psychology, I deduced that I had injured his pride a few weeks earlier. Red wasn’t aware of my theories, of course and went on attacking me.
The day he attacked my youngest son, however, he used up the last of my good will. Thing2 was driving matchbox cars on the ground when suddenly Red flew at him. I saw him attack and got between them before Red could hurt him, but I was furious. An hour later, Red learned about consequences, and we discovered that, unlike revenge, karma should be served with stuffing.
I’d never noticed his holster before. Perhaps because we were always passing too quickly to see, or perhaps because his unusual riding style leaves us scratching our heads until hewas too far away to see anything else.
But today he had just finished filling up as I pulled into the gas station, and as he adjusted his trademark red scarf over his lean, shirtless torso(an other part of his trademark) and stood up to ride, his feet planted on the bike’s footboards, I noticed that he was wearing a gun belt. It looked like something out of a western, and when he sped away, it was apparent that he was sporting a holster on each side.
Thinking that the chrome-colored firearms might be fake or for decoration, I went into the station and asked my husband, “Does he always carry?”
“You never noticed that?” My husband asked. “He always carries at least one Colt .45.”
“Really?” I was only curious because I knew it wasn’t deer season or bear season or decorate your gun-rack season.
“Well, except when he wears his nickel-plated Colts. They’re pretty cool. But only on special days”
“I guess he’s trying to remind everyone that it’s a special day,” I said.