Sunday, February 26, 2017


This post will have it all -- the sublime, the tragic, life and death, beauty and love.

I'm in Chicago. This is monumentally special. I adore spending time with my girls and because my younger one lives now not terribly far, visiting is easy. Popping in on her and her husband is casual, but at the same time each visit feels significant and grand.

Meals are chosen with great care and this morning the three of us eat brunch at Mott Street, which, the name notwithstanding, is just a short few blocks from where they live (in the neighborhood of Bucktown).


(I have a superb dish of black bean shrimp and grits with shaved greens...)


...and I hope you notice sunshine streaming in! Yes, we've waved goodbye to the bitter cold of yesterday and are back to anticipating a forward march to spring.

And speaking of marching -- we do a lovely walk through portions of their neighborhood. I have not forgotten that this corner of Chicago used to be identified as the Polish neighborhood. The sign below is not new and indeed, it's somewhat surprising that it remains what it is.


I love these strolls through the city with these two -- we pass their everyday haunts and I get to hear the details of how a day might unfold for them.

Eventually though I must settle for that final hug. I have a train to catch so that I can be on a bus that'll put me at the farmette before 5.

Our beloved farmette! Today, it's a sad place to return to.

Yesterday in the evening Ed went to the barn to lock up the cheepers and though the three hens were in the coop, he could not find Butter. He reported white feathers outside -- never a good sign. Equipped with a flashlight, he went out to search for her and he did find the old girl, quite dead and with a missing head.

Ah, Butter! She was our oldest girl: she came to us with her sister, Whitey, nearly three years ago. She was bristly and a tad cocky, but over time she lost her rough edge and indeed, in the current pack, she'd become the gentle leader.

I thought she was really old for a chicken. Indeed, I told Ed I thought she was losing her vision. I'd throw bread at them and they'd pounce, but in recent weeks she could not figure out where the chunks had landed. And even so, she was our best layer. The other girls are just now slowly coming back to laying eggs after a half year pause, whereas she has been back on track for several months now.

We called her Butter because her true owners told us her name was Butterscotch. When a few weeks later they dropped off the brown hen (we were supposed to be only "foster parents" to the whole lot of them) I asked about her name and the owner hesitated, as if she couldn't quite remember, then blurted out -- Butterscotch. Well now, that wouldn't do. So the white girl became Butter and the brown girl -- Scotch.

Of course we worry about the remaining three cheepers. Who was the predator? Why hadn't she escaped? She's always managed to be good at keeping safe. What happened yesterday?

Ed and I feel that with all the predators out there, our girls have been lucky to avoid being victims to their hunt. Every animal (except the groundhog who maintains a vegetarian diet) loves a chicken! Sure, we could fence them, but that fence would have to be a cage that keeps hawks out from the top, raccoons from the bottom and everyone else from the side. The cheepers would never be able to dig, to have dirt baths, to roam as freely as they do now. So we let them roam.

Ah Butter! We already miss you!

The sun is still up when I pull into the farmette driveway. I visit with the three remaining girls... I don't have to go far. They come running to me to tell me of their anxiety.

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You're okay... You're okay...

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I go inside the farmhouse and turn my attention to dinner. My older girl and her family will be over for the Sunday evening meal and so there will be loveliness again!

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And love.

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Oh, sure, I wish the Chicago couple were here as well! But, I have these images of our weekend. Of movies, food, words, music...


Sunday night -- a night of stars, of glimmer and gold for many. A night where I am very focused on the happiness of those who shared bits and pieces of the weekend with me. So much love flowing in all directions! So many beautiful moments! To remember always.