Sunday, June 20, 2010

June 20: Dove

It's Father's Day, but my dad's away today and I haven't come across any inspiring paternal images to write about in his honor--except for the pileated woodpecker (a bird my dad always enjoys seeing), which has been insistently calling up and down the river today for some unknown masculine purpose. If he were home, my dad would probably be hearing it too, as my parents and I live about a mile apart on the same river.

The report called for rain this afternoon, so I spent this sunny morning working in my garden, trying to create a bit of order in the chaos of the flourishing beds. While I clipped and deadheaded and weeded, I could hear a neighbor's chicken clucking and cackling, apparently having just laid her morning egg. I love that we voted to allow people in town to have up to nine chickens--it just makes so much sense in this age of sustainability and trying to eat locally. And I love that several of my neighbors have chickens, even though we don't directly benefit. When I was growing up, my grandparents kept chickens, so I have fond memories of caring for Henrietta, Betty, Harcourt et al. and collecting their eggs. The clucks and cackles of chickens are soothing noises. I'm currently reading Sy Montgomery's new book Birdology, which begins with an excellent chapter on chicken culture. You'll never look at a chicken the same way again.

All my co-workers except one (who's building a coop next summer) have chickens now, but I have no desire to own any myself, so enjoying the clucking of the neighbors' birds a block away will have to do. But then I noticed a pert brown mourning dove pecking away in the gravel of our driveway. There's my chicken, I thought. Doves are like miniature chickens, soft and gentle, always hanging around the yard or on the driveway. This one even flew to the sidewalk behind me for a while as I was puttering in the garden just a few yards away. Granted, we aren't eating any dove's eggs for breakfast, but their presence, like that of a flock of smooth little chickens, is a small comfort.

Not tame, but the dove
on my lawn brings as much joy
as a flock of hens.

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