A work of art always surprises us;
it has worked its effect before we
have become conscious of its presence.
Sir Herbert Read
This is a story that was inspired by a beautiful watercolour painting of an old door leading to a chicken coop. Painted by the extremely talented artist T. Michael Normile of Napanee Ontario. It touched my heart. I am sorry that I cannot share a photo of the painting. These photos do not have anything to do with the story.
Setting down the heavy pails of water on the dusty feather covered floor, I listen to the sounds of tiny feet thumping up the stairs. This always makes me smile. “Wait for me Mama”. I love those words. Every time I hear them, my heart swells. I turn towards the voice, where the familiar red tassel bobbing up and down begins to appear. Next the red and white knitted hat, then those beautiful blue eyes with long lashes, and finally those bright red cheeks with the huge smile between. Life always feels so right, when I see her face knowing she is happy. “I’m waiting Sally.”
Sally stirs up the dust, as she shuffles through, and over the floor, making her way to the wire covered door. She slips the hook up, the door opens. Two of the chickens fly off their perch, throwing dust and feathers into the air. Sally laughs out loud. We hurry into the coop “Shut the door Sally.”
The rays of sun, try to break through the dirty dust covered window facing the south. The falling dust dances on the rays, trying to find the floor where the chickens now sit, while looking for its warmth on this cold December day. “Now, Mama now?” “Yes Sally go ahead, but remember be gentle.” Sally sets her little yellow basket on that dirty floor and smiles, her eyes sparkle. “Careful now.”
Sally slips her hand under Ruby, the old Barred Rock, who seems to have lived here on the farm forever. “Ouch, bad Ruby” I laugh knowing that was going to happen, just like every other morning. I giggle thinking Ruby is not a morning chicken. Sally once again tries to slip her hand under Ruby. Her tiny hand pulls out what she had been hoping for. “Good girl Ruby.” I smile, knowing she says that same thing, every morning. Familiarity and that smile, keep me going in this harsh world of farming in the winter. Sally cradles that egg in her tiny little hands, then sets it gently into the waiting basket “It’s so warm Mama” she looks up, smiling.
Sally picks up the basket and carries it over to Bessy, the younger Barred Rock, snuggled in the straw bed nest. “Don’t be like Ruby, Bessy, I will not hurt you.” “Good girl” another egg is placed in the basket. “I love my chickens Mama.” "I know Sally". I pour the water from the buckets into the waterers, while Sally holds that basket tight, as if it was full of treasure. I close the wire covered door and hook the latch.
“Time to go milk Mary now Sally” “OK Mama” I watch as that red tassel bobs back down those dusty old stairs, I follow behind.
I wrote this for my creative writing class. It may, or may not have some truth to it. Those who know me, know.
I hope you enjoyed it. My only wish is that you could see the actual painting.