Bits of coffee grounds stuck to my tongue, and I moved them to my front teeth, chewing their bitterness like a rabbit.
I was sipping my coffee on the back deck, watching the mist snake through the foothill as it twisted and rose, disappearing as the air heated. The coffee was a bit weak for my taste, a first attempt at using my new French press.
That’s when I heard the rustling in the bushes off to the left side of the back of the house. Sounded like one of the dogs had gotten loose and was sniffing and snuffling his way under the azalea bush – or was it a hydrangea? I could never remember which was which. The new house not only had new rooms to decorate, but new plants and sounds and smells to become familiar with.
I’d moved in after the divorce. One I’d wanted badly enough to leave everything behind that wouldn’t fit in the back seat and trunk of my aging Corolla. But now I was in the process of rebuilding, a year later. I’d begun picking out items that pleased only me. I even painted my kitchen table a horrid Pepto Bismol pink color – just because I could. Well, now it was all mine to care for, to maintain, to pay for.
And now, it seemed I had an unexpected visitor. Somewhere down in that bush. Out of sight, but definitely it was actively moving around and making noise. With a sudden flurry of leaves and crunching of the ground material, out popped a chicken.
Of all things, a chicken was in my yard. I knew for certain my neighbors did not keep chickens – and that the former owners of my home did… but they’d been gone from here for two years, so odds were this was not a holdout.
Before I could form any reasonable explanation in my yard, the chicken and I made eye contact. Most definitely it was far more alarmed to see me than I was to see it, and it flapped its wings in a panic. I ran down the steps to the long grass outside, making a mental note that I really DID need to get a mower this weekend.
The chicken had doubled back toward the other end of the yard, and was running at a shockingly fast speed for a chicken… or so I thought. After all, what did I know about chickens? Why was it running? Why was I running? I figured maybe I could catch it and take care of it – in return for eggs. After all I’d been thinking about having laying hens… maybe this was a sign, or a volunteer.
But man, could this chicken run.
I began to realize it was headed for the corner of the yard, which was bound with a fence. If the chicken got over the fence, it would head toward the road – and the thought of all the archetypal jokes that would bring on gave me a fit of chuckles. Then again, if it didn’t make it over the fence, I suspected it would be mine to keep. After all, wasn’t possession nine-tenths of the law? All I had to do was catch it.
That made me remember my grandfather’s sage advice, when I’d been a little girl, he’d said, “Remember, if you put salt on a bird’s tail, you can catch it.”
And that’s when I knew… this was going to work out just fine, either way.
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