This wee habitat feels like such a gift to me. It's just over a block away from our house, it has a narrow bark dust path that winds its way through trees and grasses (sometimes I walk laps while the kids play at the park), and there's always a different critter to observe. Some critters I'd rather not observe. Snakes make me so skittish. I very willingly handed the camera over to Aidan to document the knotted, slithering things. Eww.
We always see ducks gathering around the pond, wigeons and mallards dabbling away or serenely gliding across the water, faithfully paired off with their mates. Occasionally we see a pair of Canada Geese, and yesterday we caught sight of yet another pair.
Aidan and Avery wanted to get as close to the geese as they could, so they crept toward the large birds while I held back with our Very Concerned Corgi. Suddenly Avery's head shot around as she wildly pointed at something else. It was a chicken. This was some pond poultry we'd not yet seen. It must have wandered from someone's back yard.
Now, Avery has an affinity for animals in general and farm animals in particular. She also has a way with them, so it didn't surprise me to see her slowly, patiently approach the bird, making those endearing, reassuring chirping noises that one makes when one wants to reassure a hen.
The hen gradually warmed up to her, but then started off toward the woods. I figured that was the end of that (and was a bit relieved), when a bunny scurried by. My delighted eyes followed Peter Cottontail for a brief moment and then darted back to Little Miss who suddenly emerged from the brush, cradling the hen.
She very quickly formed an attachment. She named it Penny. I'm sure it was a very nice chicken, but I cringed at the thought of how I would manage to part these two, especially when Avery referred to Penny as "the best thing that ever happened to me." It was a pretty intense bond for something that had been forged only fifteen minutes ago.
I let her hold and pet that chicken as long as possible, and then we finally made our way home. She glanced back at Penny, praying that the Lord would please make that chicken follow us. The Lord did not make that chicken follow us.
As soon as we got home, Avery began to make plans for us to acquire some chickens of our own. I began to make plans to say "no." She anticipated my reticence. "Dad has some wood in the garage! He can make a coop!" She was very adamant, and I finally said, "Honey, we just can't keep chickens. Think about it for a minute. When you woke up this morning, you weren't thinking about chickens at all. Now, you're suddenly begging for one, expecting your father to immediately construct a coop. Doesn't this seem just a little bit . . . impulsive?" I saw the light dawn on her face. A flicker of understanding, and she grinned ruefully. We would not be getting chickens. But we sure could write a story about Penny! And illustrate it, too! This was good. This would be a lovely tribute to Penny.
This morning Avery went straight for the piano and started hammering away at her recital pieces. The chicken was a thing of the past. (Chicken? What chicken?) We soon headed out the door to see the Ten Grands for Kids piano concert in Portland. She was inspired. She would be on that stage someday. She would wear a lovely, flowing gown, and she would be amazing.
As soon as we got home, she was back at the piano, pounding away like a mad woman.
Goodbye, Penny. Hello, Mozart.