Leave it to Henrietta to get me writing. I've felt pretty much uninterested in anything the past month that doesn't involve my fuzzy pajamas, my wool comforter, and a mystery novel. Not that its been particularly cold of late, far from it. We're practically the Bahamas compared to what's been going on on the East Coast so I really can't complain about anything.
I couldn't get a good shot of her from behind where the skin shows through. Pathetic, no?
For the past week or so I've noticed Henrietta's feathers dropping off. We've owned chickens for about 18 months now and until now I've never witnessed molting. Boy, though, when it happens you definitely know it. Today I went out to look for eggs and was absolutely stunned by how pathetic she looks right now. We're talking bare skin. Bare chicken skin with "chicken bumps" instead of goose bumps. Just looking at her makes me cold. I've got enough feathers out in the yard that I should probably think about stuffing them into a blanket for her.
Musing on Henrietta's poor exposed skin while out on my walk this afternoon I made the not-so-remarkable connection between dropping feathers and falling leaves. Today is really cold for here--mid 30s--and it has looked like snow all morning. (In fact, as I sit here I see the first half-hearted attempts at snowflakes are starting to fall). Anyway, leaves are all over the ground, sometimes as a mirror image of the tree from which they fell, as if they all came down at once. Which, mostly likely, is what happened. Walking through the neighborhoods and then down to the river, I try to keep from tripping because all I want to do is look up: up at the slate-colored sky, up at the geese flying overhead, up at the leaves drifting down to the ground. I think about trees giving up their leaves to go dormant over the winter, ready to bud out again when the days get longer and the air becomes warmer. According to rumor (again, having never witnessed a chicken molting before), Henrietta's feathers will come back more resplendent than ever. If she survives freezing her butt off, that is.
Maybe the urge to dig in, hibernate, sleep, eat, pare away all the extras, is my own sloughing off of leaves or feathers. Simplify. Get out in the weather every day (or go crazy--hmm, thinking of those ladies in igloos who run out naked in the middle of winter), create some loving meals, cuddle with family, get the work done that needs to be done, but none of the extra stuff that seems to come with warmer weather and longer days. This time of hibernation and regeneration makes all the busy times of spring, summer, and fall possible. I'm storing up energy to sprout new leaves or feathers. Some may say this smacks a little too much of winter blues but I'm willing to argue that embracing the cold, stripped-down-bare-chicken-skin-of-life one season out of the year is what provides perspective and balance to the rest of the year.