Saturday, September 15, 2012

Rooster Crooning

We’re on our third summer of chickens, and second batch of chicks.  This time one of the hens is not.  We wanted an all-hen flock to stay on the good side of the neighbors (and our weekend sleep).  But sexual politics among chickens turns out to be not so simple.    A hen in the first batch developed spurs and made teenage-voice-cracking attempts of crows at random hours.  Most of the hens hopped on top of each other in some imitation of sex, but now we have the real deal.  The surprised squawk of mounted chickens exclaims the day.  Supposedly, the presence of a rooster will tame the viciousness of the pecking order, which I’m sure the two balding hens appreciate.  Though his spurs are only just starting to emerge as little wart-like growths on his legs, his neck and tail feathers have grown long and luxurious, which I imagine him flaunting Fabio-style.  His comb is bigger and redder than the rest.  And this week he began to crow.  It sounds like a young girls’ giggle, a double-syllabled coo, still unsure and timid.  But he is taller than the rest and always in the forefront.  Maybe his song will strengthen when his flock sisters begin to lay and thus provide evidence of his prowess.  The old ladies’ egg production is down to a trickle while the young ones are just figuring out what the boxes  are for ( seems we should have gotten a new batch of chicks EACH spring rather than skipping one).
     For our 13-year anniversary, we bought ourselves a painting of a glorious rooster by Trumbly.  On it is written, “He dreamt of a land where roosters ruled and magnolias never ceased to bloom”. 

I hope our rooster has such notions….

Friday, September 7, 2012


Whenever I come back from a trip or a several-day throwing and trimming session, I sit down to paint a set of dragons. I twirl their tails, pin them under their toes, wedge them in their teeth. The claws are in my muscle memory, the scales train my wrist in a uniform motion, the wings are exercises in straight lines. When they are complete, I have a tray of dragons proudly egging me onward: praise to the childhood fascination with myth that keeps the human story just slightly undefined. It is impossible to draw an inaccurate dragon since none such ever existed, but there are some traditions of form that we cling to: the wings must protrude somewhere along a shoulder blade. The creases have to occur the way a lizard's leg would, and the angles of the limbs can't be more absurd than that of a frog's. 
     There is a fear of exposing myself as a D&D-playing, fantasy-consumed, nerd. But, then, if those are the experiences that gave me pleasure, what is there to be ashamed about? I embraced that feeling of promise with the various shaped dice in my palm, while my older cousin intoned, "Have a look, have a listen" and the result of the dice would decide whether or not I was aware of the Balrog waiting to attack behind the corner of his graph paper labyrinth. 
     Formative moments of imagination include dragons. Of course there were fairies too, but they were too timid to be seen. The mighty dragon, however, isn't shy. I've had a picture by Mercer Meyer of a girl and her dragon above my bed since I was 10. (From a book of Unicorns). I never liked the unicorn, especially as it seems to be taking pride in the dragon's demise. I always thought they were prissy, unicorns. But I loved the liquid drop of dream that oozes into the real world (and the nod to the Cheshire Cat, of course).
"Amanda Dreams of Dragons", Mercer Meyer
     Everyone has a story about a dragon, or how they gain strength from the idea of them. So I make big, hearty, dragon mugs to usher in a more powerful day, full to overflowing with unknowns and imagination