If you’ve been following the story of my rooster and I, you’ll appreciate this latest tale in the saga. If you haven’t been following this particular storyline, well, maybe read on anyway, because really, this post is about love. Because of this little bird, I’m relearning, and possibly understanding for the fist time, that the thing about love is: you don’t get to control the outcome.
When you fall in love, you’re really gambling. You get to participate, and you get to make a lot of decisions along the way, but life is its own force. Further, when you fall in love, inherently, it’s with something or someone, and that other party brings its own set of situations. In this case, I have fallen in love with a rooster, er, my son’s rooster.
It started innocuously enough; we went to the feed store for chicks. Chicks are hard to accurately sex, and so far I guess we’ve just been lucky. This time, one was a boy, and he’s a sweet and lovely bird, with a great disposition. He’s the one my preschool aged son was partial to, and you can read more about it here, if you’re unfamiliar.
Meeting up with the story today, we’ve had massive snowfall this winter. Free ground space has been limited, and so the birds have begun to peck one another. Also, I can only presume that attempts to mate on uneven, snowy ground, or cramped coop quarters on the heaviest snow days, have resulted in the large laceration I discovered on one of the hens yesterday. Fairly typical, and common, but new for this flock which has previously demonstrated healthy behavior.
I moved the injured bird to isolation quarters in the greenhouse, leaving the three remaining birds in the original coop. After fighting with the cold all day, calling a couple poultry savvy friends to cross check my thinking, and driving through heavy snow to the feed store, I’d scrambled together another chicken outfit for the greenhouse (feeder, waterer, and warming light). I’d intended to shovel the coop, remedying the space constraints for the three remaining birds, but it had grown dark.
It snowed all night. It has snowed, magnificently, all day today. This morning, when the rooster crowed and crowed for assistance, from the snowed in coop, I stared. I stared until, under the pressure of all that is domestic (you’ll either understand that line, or you won’t), I sunk into defeat, literally. I sat down in the snow and cried–for about five powerfully efficient minutes. Sometimes, it is the simplest things that bring you to your knees, when so many others have not.
And in fact, that moment in the snow was necessary. There is a feeling I have learned to notice, and honor, and it is defeat. For me, defeat is a prize–of hard-earned reconciliation, after a long battle with truth. I’ve been here before.
Truth is elusive, and sometimes that’s because it’s not what we want it to be–and especially, when that truth is tangled up in love. Sometimes love works, and the pieces fit. Other times, they do not.
But what if we strive, and how much? Can we tip the scales in our favor? Sometimes. We all know love is about give, as well as receive, and something stronger builds along the way, and even then, sometimes, it doesn’t work.
The snow clarified how precariously this rooster situation was all balanced, and I think I don’t need to clarify who was balancing it all until now. Based on what I have to give, and the options available, he is being relocated. I’m really sad about it, truth be told. With all this give and take, the bird and I have become pals.
He’s a delight. He’ll be a model citizen on the farm, and if he’s not–well, I couldn’t have fixed that for him here, either. He may end up in the soup pot, and that’s that, and it doesn’t change that he taught me some things about myself.
Yes, I am not too proud to admit I love a rooster, and that he taught me, and now I must set him free. (I know exactly which one of you heartless readers is really laughing now.) Through all this, what did I come to understand?
In affairs of the heart, I do not mess around. I have poured great love into this rooster, and now, I must pour great love into releasing him from this little bind. I have learned to work it, until it is unworkable, and then to hand it over. There is strength in knowing one’s limitations. Like I said, I’ve been here before.
Each love, each friendship, each animal, has the capacity to soften us until our love becomes unabashedly whole, and shameless. With people, it’s complicated. With animals, it’s different. By seeing love so directly outside of myself, and off of the humblest of sentient beings, I now understand that I hold that inside. It is something I have.
As for my loss of the bird–I’m crying a little at a time. I told the children he’ll be happier on the farm, and I explained that he is livestock, and not a pet. My daughter recalled why we got the birds in the first place, for the eggs, and they finally conceded, but they have been watching. They have seen him napping in my lap on a summer day, and the way he greets me. They know.
And I know something, too. All that love will loop right back in, like direct current, and pour back into my little family. What a gift, this bird, this life, this ability to love!