ophe's promise

something akin to a sketch pad

moon phases
Location: Hawaii, United States

one of my favorite quotes: Be Humble for you are made of earth; Be Noble for you are made of stars.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Why a picture of a chicken and her dozen chicks? Agnes is not just an ordinary chicken, oh no! Here's the story......

A few years ago a personal "crisis" triggered a very generous offer from a friend - to stay in his large luxurious home as a house guest for as long as I needed. This house is blocks from the beach, with a swimming pool, views, privacy and situated in an "up-scale neighborhood" (real-estate-sales-speak). Not only was I invited to stay, but also any or all of my four young adult children who might spend their summer vacation with me. In return, I offered housekeeping duties as well as my bookkeeping skills and served as office manager for his business. We became surrogate family (platonic, if inquiring minds want to know) and enjoyed a good friendship. Yes, I was blessed in spite of my personal "woe".

In many parts of the Big Island of Hawaii the weather is so benevolent that windows can be left open year-round. Even the rain typically doesn't blow in. With three cats in the household, my host's practice was to leave a sliding door to the deck (we call it a "lanai" in Hawaiian) open at all times. This allowed the cats to go in and out as often as they needed.

One day I heard a scratching sound on the far part of the yard - investigating I found a small chicken scratching for bugs under the fallen leaves of a huge Banyan Tree. She was a wild one and ran away when I approached. Cool.....another of the charms of this island - even in "up-scale" suburbia there can be found a unique kind of wildlife.

One day after returning from work, I was surprised to notice an egg on top of the armoire in my bedroom. Yes! somehow that wild hen had not only discovered cat food as a tasty supplement to her insect diet, she had also decided that my bedroom provided a good potential nest. What a gift! She gave me an egg! And so this wild chicken became my "Agnes of God". She continued to sneak into the house to get into the cat food and continued to deposit eggs in my bedroom. (sometimes she'd deposit something not as wholesome as a fresh egg, too - I'll not go into detail) She persisted in avoiding direct contact with us humans, though, usually hanging out below the Banyan and roosting up in the branches at night. ("free range" chicken eggs are quite tasty and wholesome - the yolk color is a rich orange color, not the anemic yellow of store-bought eggs - cat food in the diet?)

I've friends in the Dominican Republic and have visited that Island a few times, too. So, I subscribe to an online daily news service, entitled DR1, to keep up with the local news of my friends. One news story was especially unusual and I called the family around to listen while I read it aloud. Seems there had been a couple of girls abducted and held prisoner in a man's home. They claimed he was a witch doctor and kept a chicken in the same room as the girls. The girls claimed that the chicken was a kind of spy - she would report whatever they said or did to the witchdoctor. The news story related that the girls were now freed and that this evil witch doctor was now in jail awaiting a trial and that the chicken was incarcerated (evidence? witness?) as well! Here I was, reading this story aloud to my friend and my daughters and we looked up to see........ Agnes peering through the slats of the window and listening too! (like I said, she's no ordinary chicken......)

The follow-up to the Dominican Republic's witch doctor? The girls recanted their story..... said they had run away from their homes and weren't really prisoners; he was allowed to go free. And the chicken? Seems that the jailer had found her talents especially helpful, too. He claimed the chicken gave him the winning numbers to the national lottery. The chicken was released from jail and went home with the jailer. The news article didn't explain just how the chicken was able to give him the winning lottery numbers, so don't ask me. Agnes never shared such information with me, either.

I've since moved on to a more rural area and Agnes came with me - she managed to attract a male suitor (I suspect an escaped fighting cock - there seems to be a thriving market here in what are euphemistically called "show birds")... voila...... chicks. Here, her diet did not include cat food - rather some chicken feed and whatever bugs and seeds she could scratch up from the grounds, herself. Recently she was trapped by an unpleasant neighbor and shot - some people don't appreciate the calls of roosters early in the mornings. They also don't seem to appreciate the bug control these birds offer, not to mention the egg offerings. But the birds and the other feral visitors to this small property are all welcome by me. I like to think of it as a small sanctuary, in fact. Some may argue that an unchecked feral chicken population is a hazard to the local environment ( I suspect they rather believe that it may be a hazard to their real estate investment values?)
My feelings are that the presence of the chickens is a blessing!

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