When I went out with a cutting board on which were scattered crumbs and rinds,
Appenzeller was the only one who came running up.
“Where are the others?”
If chickens can look guilty or awkward in their body language, that was the
effect she was going for. “Busy,” was all she said. What this meant, of
course, is that she’d the only one no longer laying eggs; Pecorino has joined
Mimo in our war effort, keeping us well supplied in the present emergency. By
“well-supplied” I mean I only eat a couple of eggs a week; L. likes a few more
than that. I think last week we had six.
It seems increasingly likely that Hamish is, if not a killer, at least an
enforcer of some repute. I found another rat, which like someone playing the
heavy suggested he was responsible for the beast’s unfortunate condition—it was
neither quite dead, nor likely to survive. If it was not his work, the other
possibility is that our streets being deserted at night has led to an invasion
of goats or tigers. Both are much in the news. I can report that the bounds
of Fort Squawk remain unbreached. I think coyotes with artillery are what
would be needed, or hungry humans.
In a brief bit of sunshine, to get a side order of vitamin D, I took my ham and
peanut butter and avocado sandwich—I know, I know… not everyone’s taste—outside
on a plate. The weather is supposed to improve next week but on Saturday snow
was in our forecast. In April!
Mimo wanted to know whether I write from scratch, which is an odd question from
a chicken. Did she want to know whether I take inspiration from the girls’
customary motion, or like a proud cook used no processed ingredient?
Mimo: It occurred to me that I could incorporate ancient bird tales.
Me: I don’t see why not.
Pecorino: Wouldn’t be original would it?
Me: That’s a hard question. Majority opinion suggests that you can steal
structure without cries of plagiarism; you just can’t steal someone else’s
Appenzeller: But you keep thieving from the poet Burns.
Me: It’s not thieving if I tell you when I’m doing it. That’s called
Mimo: May I quote some of your sandwich?
You’ll recall that Appenzeller passed through two periods in which she imitated
a rooster. Her latest party trick is an impression of a gull. It’s like that
guest at a dinner party who so wants to show everyone how good he is at “doing”
the Queen. “One and one’s fahmlah…” Not very close, but you applaud
Pecorino, I don’t know how she does it.
Me: Get many gulls around here do we?
Mimo: Weather brings them in. Too scared to land though.
Me: We see them up at the school, but you’re right, I’ve not seen them in our
Mimo: The world teems with creatures that want to eat birds. Fortunately we
have our faithful dog.
Me: I’m glad you appreciate his contributions. Are you thinking of giving him
a round of applause any time soon?
Appenzeller: Have you seen the way he bowls us over when going for a squirrel?
Where’s your sense of proportion?
Me: But you get in the cats’ way.
Mimo: That’s only natural; we’re bigger than they are.
Me: Jeeves, I’ll grant. Not sure about Sonsie.
Mimo: Size is a matter of how you think. Intimidate, intimidate, intimidate,
first rule of real estate.
Appenzeller: So what’s it like inside the house?
I decided to go for a god-like tone. Inside our house are multiple worlds.
There’s the world of work, which is mysterious but brings you food. The world
of cats splits in two. Jeeves, the old guy, tries to keep to his schedule,
eating first thing, going out on patrol but increasingly falling short, by
which I mean that he declares the world cold and comes in to sleep. Sonsie
wants breakfast when anyone stirs, and then goes back to bed for multiple
hours. From time to time he becomes serious about getting away from the ‘rents
and will kill a mouse for fun. Hamish can sleep the day away if that’s what we
wish-- provided he has been de-bounced at an appropriate morning hour--but when
the sliding door moves then SQUIRRELS or RATS must be investigated as if 911
had been called. Nice enough behavior except when it’s wet and you guys have
been creating slurry on the concrete. You have observed through the door that
we're not the kind of people who insist people remove their shoes before
entering—a little bit of dirt is probably good for the immune system—but wiping
your feet before entering should be, in my view, what everyone does. Dogs can
be convinced of this, but it takes work. And lots of towels left beside doors.
I don’t suppose you might consider using the bushes a little more?
Appenzeller: That’s where we roost.
Mimo: Need to keep those areas clean.
See, we have the same idea. You note I keep yard brushes beside each door and
push your pooh onto the flower beds. On concrete the slurry builds up and
there develops a reluctance by rainwater to drain across surfaces that normally
would be clear. “Why,” they may ask when next I interview for a job, “are you
not C.E.O. of some large combine?”
Too busy with slurry, chum. It’s the refusal of rain to drain off the plain
old concrete that occupies me.
This week two people I know developed symptoms of Covid-19. So far, so good.
May the rest of you stay safe.
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