Friday, August 13, 2010
Signs from nature - bird in the sky, moonrise, leaf on sidewalk - used to be what created benchmarks to know where to turn on the path. Now I'm in midst of so much green and bird and dirt I don't know which way to turn; completely a-drift, a-sign.
So far worms, dragonflies, dandelions, and blackberries, and hawks are the noticeable nobility of the forest; I greet them with great deference.
Headcount: nineteen chickens. One got eaten a couple weeks ago by a red-tailed hawk; a chicken hawk, we've learned. It wind-hovers high above in the sky kee-kee-ing. It ate our chicken right in the yard.
We've put a scare-hawk up, with blue hat, pink mittens, jeans, tan army shirt - shiny CD's for eyes, CD's dangling from its wrists that revolve in the wind and throw sunlight around in such weird ways I'm startled digging in the garden. The chickens don't mind. The dragonflies, worms, dandelions, and blackberries don't mind. But maybe - we hope - up there the hawk is unsure why piercing fractals of celestial bodies are down here in the chicken yard dancing off the trees.
My chickens have wised up. I turned the other day from my digging to see them filing silently and orderly, like a well-executed fire drill, back into the coop. I looked up in the sky and saw a kite of a hawk, red wings blazing in the sunlight, unbelievably high up, suspended over us in the center of the circle of the trees like a batman sign, fully admirable in its menace. Chickens and hawks have impeccable eye for detail.
Today the hawk was out with two youngsters, showing them the winds and how to wheel. The baby hawks cutely wobbly circled and kee-keed, practicing high and low altitudes. I hung another raincoat and hat up on a post. Also reminded myself not to stir up the compost bin in which I had dumped a year of un-aerated, anaerobic bacteria-infested kitchen scraps smelling like the worst shit imaginable, like I've hung up my own glaring sign to the whole forest; now I'm embarrassed in front of everything.
The hawk gives the chickens something to do, something to congregate about, something to make them forget for the moment their pecking, bickering, in-fighting. Some great imperative to gather around. They are calm, look out for each other, signal the alarm. The hawk gives the chickens collective purpose, a rhythm to their day (in the coop, out of the coop, in the coop, out of the coop), the excitement and thrill of living a real life or a real death, daily.