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.
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.