From 2010 — Sometimes when we drive to work together, my husband and I barely talk, or simply speak at each other in monosyllabic grunts. This quiet time reflects nothing on our long-term, happy relationship—it reflects that we are not morning people. At that hour, I’ve not had any coffee yet for I am too lazy to get up and make it and too worried about hard water build-up to make it the night before.
This week the drive has been dismal. As we opened the garage door, our glasses steamed up from the oppressive humidity. That level of intense humidity before eight in the morning does not portend well for the coming week. The heat is exhausting and makes us both a little cranky. Correction, very cranky.
Monday we drove past some new neighbors, and a peacock strutted in their front yard. The stylish bird showed full frontal plumage, in all the essential peacock colors. I looked at husband out of a half-opened eye and grunted, “Was that what I thought it was?”
“Hmmm,” the man of a few morning words said, “A peacock?”
Nothing else was said, though I thought it was odd to see a peacock in the neighbor’s yard. Were we hallucinating because of the heat, like parched soldiers in a desert imagining an oasis ahead? In this early morning heat, we could have seen The Rolling Stones performing in the neighbor’s yard and responded with equally monosyllabic grunts.
Tuesday morning the blast furnace effect of summer hit us as we opened the garage door before work. Driving past the same house as Monday, we saw 10 or twelve laying hens of different colors on the front lawn.
This is something you don’t often see in our neighborhood. Granted we are not a gated community; we have no fancy brick sign with a name carved on it like River Oak or Monosyllabic Manor. Most of the homes in our neighborhood are thirty years old, and aging. Originally, this neighborhood of custom homes catered to doctors and lawyers. Today, teachers and social workers and factory workers live in this Unnamed Suburban Neighborhood.
We still retain some of the grace of a once upscale neighborhood. Nearly all the mailboxes are mounted in brick and we all have concrete driveways. Yards are well maintained and overall well landscaped. There are no refrigerators on the front porch, junky trucks in the driveway, decorative trolls in the front yards, or even pole barns. Most of us own yard barns that look like real barns, red or brown with white trim. One lunatic has a tacky concrete dinosaur, hiding in a discreet rock garden at the back of the house. But chickens?
Chickens lay eggs, I’m told. I learned from my dad, a high school agriculture teacher, that’s where eggs come from. I grew up in farm country, and I’ve made the connection between chicken and egg (though never solved the ‘which came first’ conundrum.) But chickens?
Perhaps the next issue will be a neighborhood chopping block. For readers who have never witnessed a chicken extermination, here’s my synopsis based on long-repressed memories from childhood.
- There are five easy steps:
1. Neck on chopping block. (Thus the origination of the phrase, “running around like a chicken with her head cut off.”)
2. Feet up, neck down on clothesline, draining blood.
3. Feathers plucked.
4. Chicken cleaned.
5. Fried, fricasseed, baked, broiled, grilled, pick your poison.
Voila! Sunday chicken dinner courtesy of one wicked grandmother and her trusty hatchet!
Tomorrow it is going to be 98 degrees with a heat index of 110. God only knows what we will see at the neighbor’s house. What next? Two of every species? I hope so; we could use the rain.