White Pants & Chicken Heads
So you can imagine my happy reunion with the place upon its seasonal reopening. And you can also imagine my quiet shock when a very sophisticated-looking woman in white pants and giant sunglasses with initials in temples turned around the corner with a tray of pansies and cut off my entrance to the double doors. I was downright shocked. Not by her actions, but by her pants. I had not seen a human being in white pants in what feels like years. My people don't wear white pants, it's just not done. One sit in my truck, one rub against a black horse, hell, one step inside my own house and those pants would be destroyed in minutes. I stared. I really did. I was glad her back was to me because I am sure I was making a scene. White Pants! How my life has changed, how strange it seemed. She could have walked inside with a fox pelt draped over her shoulder, carrying a plastic orca doll, with a glass bottle of moonshine on her hip, sporting a mohawk and it would have been less rattling. Blimey. White pants. The mind reels that two people can shop at the same store and live on different planets.
Anyway, WhitePants had her son with her, a lad around the age of eight (I am guessing), and they walked in ahead of me communicating the way all exasperated parents do for which you can hardly blame them. The kid, a tow-haired, future sports star, announced "THIS PLACE SMELLS BAD!". It smelled like gingerbread and dirt. I shrugged and entered. At the front desk the owner smiled at her and gestured for her to come forth and pay for her flowers. Then saw me walk into the door. Mrs. Stannard waved and then pointed a smiling (but accusatory) finger at me. "Jenna, Do NOT LEAVE here without your chicken heads! We have them in the freezer for you!"
Oh yeah! I remembered that last Thanksgiving, right before the stand closed for the winter I was asked if I wanted them to save the heads from their last butchering of the year for my hawk? I said yes and thank you but our schedules got messed up and I forgot the heads in a garbage bag in the freezer. I had not thought of those beheaded critters for some time and was happy to realize so much good food was laying in wait for my molting raptor. I lit up at the sentence and beamed.
The white-panted woman seemed somewhat taken aback. I don't blame her. She seemed like a totally reasonable human being who had not once in her life been offered a trash bag of decapitated chicken fruits. I thanked the store owner and muttering something to WhitePants about how they weren't for me, but for an animal. To her credit, WhitePants didn't seem all that phased but wasn't interested in sticking around much longer either. She headed outside the door with her style and loud kid. It reminded me that even in the same zip code you can say: "They aren't from around here, are they?" and smile.
On the ride back to Cold Antler I came across a recently (as in the truck ahead of me nailed it) smote squirrel. I pulled over and was pleased to see its instant death was by impact and throw, and not squashing. I put it in the back of my truck, happy to have such a natural and local food source for Italics to add to the farm raised variety. I jumped back into the driver's seat and muttered something to Gibson about how lucky we were that day. And it wasn't until we were pulling into my dirt driveway that I realized I went from working in a television studio in a large city to being thrilled about roadkill and a garbage bag full of chicken heads in the back of a dented pickup. I burst out into laughter right there in the driveway. Life is pretty neat.
To top off this little tale of a Weekday From The Edge, let me share this little visual postcard. When the laughter had passed I looked up into the sheep paddock and realized no one was there. I sighed (I am used to sheep escapes at this point) and looked up and across the road to my neighbor Tucker's vast, gorgeous, lawn. Yup. My sheep were there munching in the dappled sunlight while Tucker's wife rode around them on a riding mower. Sal stood like a little propane tank while she circled him, neither seemed to mind the other's presence. I said a prayer out loud in gratitude for such understanding neighbors who let their crazy neighbor ride her pony on their property and tolerated sheep loitering. Then I grabbed a bucket of grain and called out to Gibson. Food and teeth can't move mountains but they can move Maude.
Gibson and I wrangled back the sheep, I repaired the newest weak spot in the fence, and went inside. Soon my friends Tara and Tyler would be coming over to catch up on Game of Thrones on my 2005 iMac in my living room. I don't own a television but I have the internet and that is a fine way to catch up with my beloved Lannisters. I lit a fire (more for coziness than need of heat) and prepared the milking gear for Bonita. It was nearly 6PM and I had an appointment I could not miss. I headed back outside with my steel canister and hummed a bit. The sheep were pacing by their paddock fence, planning their next escape and I was just happy that come dusk they would resign themselves to escape another day.
I milked Bonita, called Brianna the bottle lamb, and slumped into the hammock chair hanging from the King Maple. Brianna sucked down her warm winner while I took a few long breaths. I looked back on the day and how many changes had happened to me in just a few years. When did white pants start to cause pause? Probably around the time white goat milk became normal? I can't keep track. I am glad that I don't own any white pants though. I respect the lifestyle choice but they might as well be shackles at this point. I'm broke and scared most of the time these days but I'm getting used to it. That's as big of an accomplishment as paying the mortgage these days, accepting my new normal. Not just the normal of goats milk, road kill and sheep wranglin' but the normal of a wonderful life with zero security. Well, at least I'm not going to fire myself. There's a little security in that, I suppose.
That night ended with a fire, friends, and a little lamb asleep in my lap while we watched stories on the computer. I did this thing I have done before in my life, this thing where I make myself remember a moment. I took in the sounds, colors, feelings, textures and light. I touched the babe's wooly head and inhaled that lamb smell of earth, grass, and new lanolin. I had $52 in the bank account, no idea what was in store tomorrow, a good plan to get ahead, and pigs to pick up the next day. I was in the company of friends, dry, warm, and sated. I had a lamb in my lap, a dog at my feet, and for the rest of the evening there was nothing else I could do to change my world, so I just accepted it. And with that came peace. I will never forget that moment.
A creative life, a fulfilling life, a dream - It is worth fighting for. It's also worth being stubborn for. It may have taken me from television sets to cheering over dead squirrels, but what can I say? Life's a ride. And for this gal, I'm feeling blessed these days just to hold on.