Tuesday, February 12, 2008

One Morning After the Cold Blew in

After night sleet had frozen on his hackles, and then turned to weird stuff like frozen feathers, Dot came down off his leafless roost in the cottonwood tree with a real migrating headache.
He scratched around in the driveway, tossed some gravel dice for attention, and then, instead of leading up or down the road, he took his flock right across the highway to see if the world was any warmer on the other side.

At least there were some good berries over there under the pines and the needle duff is good scratching, so he kept this up daily, sometimes crossing back and forth twice a day: frour crossings of the highway which everyday accomodates probably a hundred tractor trailers.
Deer are regularly killed along this stretch, but we haven't lost one chicken to a car or tractor trailer. The difference is that Dot does not wait until dusk, push his females ahead of him, and suddenly leap onto the highway as if he were trying to catch a ride. Dot only crossed in broad day light, walked slowly and deliberately across, with as vivid and upright a broadside display as possible.

When the cold weather really set in and snow started to accumulate on the ground, half of Dot's Red Star brothers (Ruby, Whitey, and Black Feathers, as Davey knows them) drifted down to the chicken house and began roosting there at night .
Dot and his core flock kept closer to the house, and when the leaves fell, gave up roosting in the trees, but instead, lined up on the railing by the kitchen door.

As for me, I am not the feral and hardy boy I used to be. I keep four hens in the Ark most every night for heat and I try to think of Spring. I think about putting this Ark on the lake and floating off the way I made it to do.
You can get anywhere from here: up the lake to the barge canal, then to the Erie Canal and beyond. I could go maybe up to Lake Superior to Madeline Island and Ojibway country, maybe find my way to the Missouri, up to Yellowstone and down to Ponchetrain..
Although I think about it, It can't seem to actually dream about it, so I guess it won't happen.
But if I did float off, I would bring along Moby Dot, seven roosters, and four hens.
I would keep the roosters on the roof and the hens in the cabin. I would eat two eggs every day and maybe an occasional rooster. But not Dot.
I would need him for my figurehead. And after he dies of natural causes, he will live on my flag.
Long fly Dot.

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