Thursday, June 30, 2011

Chickens and Dickens

Last night I dreamed of Little Dorrit. She's my Easter-Egger chicken. She's still just a chick but in my dream she was her beautiful, full-grown self. She ran to me to be picked up, tired of being in a coop and treated like a common chicken. I felt her soft nut-brown colored feathers and saw her puffy cheeks before she buried her head in my arm.

My pretty little chick has the most mellow and sweet disposition. I got her, along with nine other chicks (Rhode Island Reds, Buff Orphingtons, and Red Stars) from someone who ordered them by mail from a hatchery. As I drove them home in their tiny box, one chic kept chirping loudly. I wanted to pull over and hold her, but it was a hot day and they needed the water I had ready for them at home. The cry baby was Little Dorrit. For the first few days she continued to cry now and then until I carried her around in my apron pocket. Now that she is about three weeks old, she sits on my shoulder to nap, completely camouflaged in my hair. I heard her "purr" today. It sounds like a rolling, soft chirp and sounds extremely content.

I call her Little Dorrit after the Charles Dickens novel of the same name. Her calm, sweetness reminds me of the heroine of the story.

Last winter, as I was starting a sewing project, I began listening to the audiobook. As the first paragraphs were being read, I had to put down my work and just listen. My life was about to change; I knew it, and wanted to soak in every aspect of the delicious process. Have you ever been in a dark barn at noon? Imagine slowly opening the heavy creaking door to return to a meadow of brightness and fragrant grass. That is what I felt as the words were read. The words weren't revealing any profound truth. They described the heat and sun of the South of France. How could that change my life?

A while ago, I cut off TV, most movies, and even listening to the radio. It all happened gradually, in response to having watched a popular crime drama one night. After viewing it, I had to ask myself why in the world would I find that entertaining? It was a collage of the sickest aspects of human existence, sensationalized and sexualized, being play-acted by pretty people and punctuated with commercials for toothpaste, insurance and a bowel-movement-inducing yogurt. Lovely. I realized I had just wasted an hour of my life, not to mention all the previous hours wasted on the same mental garbage. It made me angry. I felt like such a fool.

Compare that to Little Dorrit. The masterpiece painted with the skillful reading of well crafted words absolutely transported me. I followed Dickens as he beckoned me to the South of France, to the debtor's prison and the to hilarious Circumlocution Office. Within ten minutes, I joined the ranks of his admirers. Within ten minutes, I felt my senses sharpen, my soul expand, my world change.

My pretty little chick is a reminder of these contrasting experiences. She reminds me that I could have missed my days with Dickens, missed that chance to expand. Had I not turned off the screaming world with all its miserable counterfeits, a new world would not have opened. It is a beautiful world, a fun world...where you can hear the purr of a chicken.

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