We sat outside on the patio furniture, sun-drunk in the calm before the Thanksgiving storm.
My Labrador was sprawled out on the edge of the circled chairs, and the lone chicken was close to the middle. Lone chicken, since most of her brethren were picked off by hawks more than a year ago. I haven’t replenished the brood, because Scarlett (named after Scarlett Lewis, from the second For The Sender book) has been a happy chicken.
You know, good on her own.
Of course, anybody who came over would say, ‘You better get that chicken another chicken’ or ‘Chickens need chickens’ or some other riff on the no-solo-chickens-allowed chorus. They said the same thing about Annie, one of my horses, when she was single, so to speak.
But Annie was happy, too. I learned awhile back that herds and broods don’t have to be all the same animals, just like family doesn’t have to be blood.
Which is why Scarlett was hanging out with us, sun drunk in the calm before the Thanksgiving storm.
Until she screamed.
I heard the hawk before I saw it, wings brushing my mom’s chair as it swooped down, talons drawn on Scarlett. She was clucking around maybe 18 inches from my mom, and a couple feet from my dog, but this predator didn’t care. It had a kill in sight.
And almost in its clutches.
The hawk hit the chicken, but couldn’t hold her. Two wing beats later it was gone, hiding in the branches of a nearby eucalyptus. I corralled Scarlett, who’d darted under the table and seemed to be in some sort of chicken shock, and took her back to the coop.
Later that night, when my turn came to say what I was thankful for, I didn’t say anything about the love of my family or my dog or my health… all of which I am grateful for.
I said I was thankful that the hawk didn’t kill the chicken.
I wonder if everyone at the table heard what I was really saying, though.
How in an instant, life can turn to death, and how grateful I am that in this pile of ‘instants’ we call life, we’re still here.
Sun-drunk in the calm, before the Thanksgiving storm.