Saturday, April 7, 2012

Gallus gallus domesticus

An afternoon thunderstorm deep in the south gave way to this lovely view. The flowering dogwoods were a pure, radiant white, a white so pure it was hard to take your eyes off of them. This was the delightful scene my first day at Barnell State Park in Blackville, South Carolina on the transition from late winter into spring.

The time continued to delight as I saw a Great Blue Heron wading in the pond, alligators swimming, a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker working a pine, three Pileated Woodpeckers foraging together and a multitude of butterflies fluttering about in the understory. It was a joyous response to the coming of spring.

But there was one visitor to my camp that keeps coming back to my mind over and over again. A chicken. She wandered up one day and caught me by surprise. She was inquisitive and she was a beauty. Her soft beige and brown colors were lovely and her tail feathers exquisite. I wondered how she had gotten there. What was she doing in a state park? Had she been abandoned? Was there a farm nearby that she wandered from? Off in the distance a rooster did crow one morning. Perhaps she was an adventurer like me and did wander off to discover the world or perhaps she escaped. I did not know. She obviously had been around humans, as she showed no fear in entering my camp but would scurry off if I came too near.

To me, she was living between two worlds, that of the domestic, she did seek human companionship and that of the wild, she returned to the woods at dusk to roost.

I was concerned for her. She was a domesticated bird – I worried if she’d survive.  I thought of her sisters, the billions suffering year after year on factory farms. I pondered capturing her and placing her in a good home. But how would I do that? And how would I transport her? I had five dogs with me. But I‘d figure something out.

 I thought deep and hard on her welfare and my mind vacillated back and forth between her and the horrific images of her imprisoned sisters. She was getting a taste of freedom, unencumbered by the demands of humans. My decision came down on her side, her side of freedom and her foray into the world her ancestors had come from. I decided not to interfere.

The day I left, I wished her well. I wished her the bliss of freedom. And, I said goodbye.

But, she will be in my memory always. As the years go by, I will think on her for a time, when the waves of memories that come and go bring her image to rest on the shores of my mind and heart.

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