Diaries of The Breadman’s Daughter: Maria’s Chickens.

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I love my daily lunch-hour walks along the country road that leads to the Agency. It’s a sweet time of solitude, relaxation and physical activity. It’s also a walking meditation. For that reason alone, I do my best to incorporate these walks into my workday. And for a city girl, with a rural sedentary job, they are also a lifesaver.

There are many things that I have grown to love about these pastoral walks. Like the smell of fresh-cut hay. Or the magnificence of an eagle perched on the top branch of a Douglas fir. The admirable tenacity of the sheep and goats that feed non-stop in the meadows. The explicitness in the demanding calls of the ravens. The comic relief of the quails scurrying across the road in uniform perfection. The dear beautiful deer. The blackberry bushes that line the road and provide a sweet treat along the way. The two majestic horses always grazing in the buttercup field. The cuteness overload from the Cocker Spaniel rescue haven. The tranquil beauty of the horticulture center at the bend in the road. The canopied chip paths that lead into the dark woods. The fragrant smell in the air after a summer rain.

And then there are Maria’s hens. They are an absolutely fabulous flock of girls. They’re the Girl Warriors of Chickendom. I’ve gotten to know them (and their rooster) pretty well over the last 9 years. In reality they probably aren’t the original group I first met 9 years ago but to me, in my little fantasy world, they most certainly are. In my defense, I’ve read that well-raised chickens in backyard settings can live 8 to 10, even 20 years. So what the hell, they could be. Besides reality sucks anyway. And Maria’s chickens live an enviable idyllic blissful life. Things looks so good, I’ve even fantasized about hopping the fence and joining this little brood of sociable cluckers.

I adore these girls. Crazy admission perhaps. But I do. They’ve completely changed my perspective on this particular fowl. Although they have done nothing to improve my foul mouth, after 9 years I do have new and improved outlook, a birds-eye view perhaps. And I can say without hesitation that they are the highlight of my daily walks. They are an endless source of amusement, fascination, curiosity and delight. I am grateful for their unassuming presence along the road.

They are the reason I stopped eating chicken. This country walk, and a Paul McCartney concert in April, also inspired me to stop eating cows and pigs. I never have eaten lambs or goats or anything wild. But let me make something perfectly clear, I’m not a vegetarian or a vegan but I am heading towards that path. I get it. Plus, my love for animals is making it increasingly difficult to eat the flesh of another. I’m not saying it’s a better way, the right way; it’s just my way. Kind of like that Frank Sinatra song.

This week I’m especially thankful for the their eggs. Maria’s hens produce the best eggs along the road. Or so I’ve heard from the good folks who live along the road and have done taste tests. I have only eaten eggs from Maria’s girls. Why go elsewhere when you’ve already experienced perfection, I say.

Besides, I will not be disloyal to the Girl Warriors of Chickendom.

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