Yesterday, our dog Meander dug her way into our chicken run and killed two chickens.  I saw her carrying something up the hill and thought it was a rabbit.  It was The Red Baron, with her head turning from crimson to white like the reverse of bleeding on snow.  Guineas gone missing

Then, Philip found the striped gal Jackie behind the garden. I stood in the middle of the chicken run and sobbed.

Now, I stand at the front door and gaze at the run, hoping the three guineas who were spooked will return.

But I let myself imagine them going wild, living free in the thick brush between our farm and the neighbor’s.  I picture them huddled together, scared, their tiny band of three, and then see them grow bold, brave, roosting in trees at night, flying down to fill their blue-skinned throats with ticks.  Somewhere between Alice and Robin Hood – adventurers, protectors, forest-dwellers.

To comfort myself, I give them a story – I place them in a thicket of multi-flora rose and see them rouse from sleep when the sunlight filters in.  I hear them cry to their siblings across the creek, the ones still contained in the run, still tilting their heads from side to side, searching.

If these three return – GBI, I call them – Green, Blue, Indigo. (Red, Orange, Yellow, and the tiny chick named Violet are still in them coop), I will feel a tiny bit of sorrow for them – because they will have lost the chance to be truly wild.  Now that they have tasted freedom, or more, now that I have imagined an adventurous free world for them, homecoming may be that sweet sorrow.

Today, when I come to terms with our first farm-losses, I am grateful beyond measure for stories, for the way my parents let me cover myself in them, let me get completely carried away in imagination.  Because sometimes – maybe most of the time – it is stories that save us from disappearing into the darkness altogether.

What stories have saved you? Any books or tales that have given you hope when you needed it?


I’m running a contest through the end of May to give away two seats in the upcoming Writer’s Retreat on the Farm as well as a copy of The Slaves Have Names.  Check out the details below.

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