It all began with sobs. Hysterical sobs that turn your guts inside out and tug at your heart so hard your stomach hurts. E-man’s Maquiette became the victim of the latent instincts of our neighbor’s sweet dog. He was sweet enough to leave us her lifeless body, short a few feathers, but otherwise unscathed.
Then things changed course. A sad, sad E-man trying to make sense of this loss wondered why his dear furry friend would hurt his dear feathered friend. A brief explanation of a dog’s instincts ensued and lead to a discussion of chickens as friends and chickens as dinner. E-man fell silent. Processing. Processing. Processing. And the silence ended with this:
“Well, then I guess we should eat Maquiette.”
Then I fell silent. Processing. Processing. Processing. And the silence ended with this:
“Well, I guess we could.”
What was to follow was all new territory. Two boys petting their dead chicken while discussing whether we would eat her feet. One mama trying to cyber-learn how to clean and butcher a chicken. One family coming to terms with death and life in a whole new context.
And so we have learned to have reverence for our feathered friends as we nurture them and they nurture us. We held a little ceremony as we gave part of Maquiette back to the earth (feet included) and we recongnized her as part of us, part of the coyotes and vultures, and part of the soil and plants.
It was a profound new place we traveled through yesterday. At least for me. It was life and death for the boys. Simple and beautiful.