Wednesday, April 6th, 2011
She’s done it again.
Laila, our lone female goose, is sitting on two enormous eggs. I suppose this is the fourth or fifth year running that she has gone through the throes of potential motherhood. Each year, just days before the eggs are due to hatch, they mysteriously disappear. Each year, Laila continues to sit on an empty nest for several days until resigning herself once again to being an independent woman.
Happily, this year she’s placed her nest inside the chicken barn – quite a safe and protected place where neither pig, nor dog, nor wild predator has easy access. Unhappily, her nest is smack dab in front of the door to the feed room. Last night, unloading 500 pounds of newly purchased animal feed, I had to carefully wedge my foot against the door jam and fling each 50 pound bag inside, far enough to clear mama and possible babies.
There is another key difference this year: Jackie Bauer. Jackie is a turkey hen, half named after the TV hero every American woman wanted to have father her children, half after my childhood best friend in the whole wide world.
Just as an aside, why do childhood best friends so often fade into the distance as we become “Mature”? This essential key to happiness, filed away with Halloween costumes and birthday parties. Granted, I, like many of you, live all too close to the DC Beltway and thus participate in the pathetic “very very very busy, gotta go now” treadmill; but wouldn’t all of us benefit from having a best, bestest friend with whom we can talk for hours about nothing at all?
At any rate, Jackie, living up to her name, has become Laila’s best friend … and nanny. These two large female birds sit side by side, day after day, guarding the nest. Every once in a while they have a mild tiff, the one not getting to sit directly on the eggs pecking at the other female, removing small feathers and basically irritating the crap out of her – but she who sits on the nest, owns the nest.
So deep is the urge for motherhood, that these girls appropriate other eggs laid in the barn and roll them under their significantly ample bottoms, as well. I am in awe of the patience – and faith – that Laila demonstrates in her annual quest for goslings. Yet I suppose she is acting out what nature does for all of us every year, bringing seemingly dead things back to life, decorating the world with new shapes and colors, infusing us with new energy and hope that what was dormant in winter will blossom in spring.
We, “the people who work”, sometimes forget to pay attention to this process of renewal. While I no longer travel to cubicle land, most of my days are nonetheless spent hunkered down over a computer keyboard. (You can take the girl to the country but you can’t take the geek out of the girl). But yesterday I went out and cut some daffodils and placed them next to my computer monitor. While the smell almost knocked me out, it’s another reminder that transformations take place in the most mundane of places.
And right now, on this stunningly sunny April day, I am going to go out and push aside two slightly cranky large birds to see if anything is coming to life under there.
“It is one of the blessings of old friends that you can afford to be stupid with them.”
— Ralph Waldo Emerson
Till next time,
Star Gazing Farm 501(c)3
A haven for retired farm animals and wayward goats