The Almost Daily Thread

musings from the blue chair

Tales from New Hampshire Drive

on June 12, 2018

I am offering a story sample of the Tales from Smack in the Middle of New Hampshire Drive and Beyond. The book I just recently published. A book I’ve been thinking about writing for a long, long time.

My Dad and Ivan were a unique and entertaining pair. When they were around a story was created to be retold. Ah, their lightheartedness, their lust for life.

Here is of my favorite family stories. Thinking how lighthearted it is to reflect on the fun, good times — the goofy times.

Enjoy.

One Fast Chicken

Our property sat above the fence line of a hillside urban farm where my mom used to drop off Porky, the chicken, hoping the chicken would like the farm and the farmer would be grateful for an additional hen added to his livestock count. Porky had outgrown all the pink dye s/he arrived with so maybe none of the other chickens would make fun of her, you know, for being a suburban chick or a clucker from atop-the-hill.
Mary Jo and her best friend, Becky Jo, spot the chickens in a display just outside Foodland a couple of weeks before Easter. Purple and blue and pink chicks waddling, cheeping, falling all over each other. Chickens in a giant flat metal bin littered with chicken drippings – not the kind you save to make gravy with. So cute? Colorful pastels, because we all know that sweet, soft buttery yellow isn’t cute enough for a baby chicken.
The girls beg to become chicken owners for so many days-it works! Mary Jo’s chick arrives in a little cage just outside the basement door on Easter morning as part of the whole Easter basket tradition, the whole giant, big fat Easter bunny tale parents perpetuate. Mary Jo loves Porky at first sight. She holds it. She feeds it. She makes sure it has water. She learned that animals need food and water regularly when Gerry, the gerbil, succumbed during the previous summer’s 7 day vacation with none of either.
Of course my mother’s insistent, “Don’t bring that chicken into this house,” instruction doesn’t last long. Porky gets into the basement daily and struts his/her way around, upstairs and downstairs, looking for Mary Jo. Porky likes to sit on Mary Jo’s shoulder when she does her homework. Mary Jo swears she did homework on occasion. Was the fact that Porky pooped down her back the final straw in his/her banishment or was it because s/he never caught onto the multiplication tables? Was it the extra laundry or lack of tutoring?
Or was it because Porky started crowing?
In order to safely and kindly dispose of the barnyard animal, Mom, gently, repeatedly escorts said chicken down the hill to the adjoining farm, only to return to find Porky sitting patiently on the back porch waiting for her! One homesick chicken with a sense of direction. I can assure you Porky didn’t learn that from my sister who will tell you to turn right when, really, it’s left nearly every time.
To the farm and back. To the farm and back. And the daily frustration of feathers and other trails of the chicken’s whereabouts in the house forces a more straight forward action. A frustrated Mom has Joe, my boyfriend and future husband, and I take Porky with us one day when we are going to Greenbo Lake State Park to swim. “Just drop him off where you see a farm house,” Peggy instructs. “This is one educated chicken. Porky will survive and he can teach the other chickens their numbers.” We stuff the flapping, confused, unruly animal in a box with plenty of air holes and a couple of cucumber slices.
The farm looks friendly. There are other chickens. It is close to the road so we don’t have to drive cautiously down a very long unfamiliar driveway and approach the home of a total stranger. The deed is accomplished, although my mother looks for Porky to wander in for weeks after.
Even now, 35 years later, when chicken is served at a family function, decades later, the “trauma” of Porky’s banishment is abruptly brought to the attention of those gathered around a table sharing food and creating new family memories, Mary Jo will exclaim with theatrical melancholy, “You kidnapped Porky. You took Porky to a stranger’s farm. How can you eat that chicken knowing what you did to Porky. He was a shy chicken. He was my favorite chicken.”
“He was your only chicken,” some will remind her.
“He didn’t even know anyone at that strange farm.”
She is never comforted when I reply, “No one knows he started out pink.”
My sister can be a tad dramatic, like when she is asked to start the biscuits, she will pick up the plate, set it down in front of her and pull an “air” cord making a lawnmower noise as she jerks her arm. And she’s been known to show up with an empty bowl or plate when invited to a pot luck and is asked to “bring a dish.” She loves to wash dishes but sometimes has to go the bathroom – for, like, a long time! But, really, truly, she is the best carrot peeler and silver polisher.
So, why did they color dip those innocent newborn chicks? What color sold best? And how does one train to be a chicken dipper? Do all the purple ones go into one area until they dry so as not to flap purple spots onto a nice pink batch? “This won’t hurt for long little chick. Hold your breath and no flapping. It’s just like getting your hair colored.” Dunk.
Oh and FYI, Becky Jo’s chick died young. Note to self, “Don’t fall for the blue chick.” Guess the blue dye was a harsher chemical.
I am sure there was a neighborhood funeral; that the blue chick was buried in a shoe box and we read Bible verses; and that we set out to present a service with appropriate songs but the singers all broke into shyness or laughter before the first verse of Amazing Grace was complete.

Tales from Smack in the Middle of new Hampshire Drive can be purchased from Amazon:


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