Tuesday, April 18, 2006

All Summer in a Day

After nearly 80 inches of rain and scattered snow, we finally see the that unfamiliar ball of light in the sky. And I am stuck inside, glued to the computer, working.

I'm like Margot in that Ray Bradbury story, trapped in a closet while all her playmates raise their faces to the sun.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Guilt omelettes

I have to preface this by saying that one of us grew up near Los Padres National Forest, where a pet left out overnight was one didn't come back in the morning and raccoons pulled a beloved guinea pig to bits by reaching through the wires of its cage and tugging.

The other one of us grew up in the heart of Orange County and was completely ignorant of the evil genius of a raccoon on the prowl.

Any guesses as to which one of us regularly forgot to close the chicken coop up at night? Let's just say that won't happen again...

We were woken up last night at 2:45 a.m. by a single panicked squawk, then silence. The dog and I sat bolt upright; W. groaned.

"Did you shut the chickens in?" ... "Well then, go!"

Then, the horrible sound of a chicken screaming, like one of our ladies was being torn limb from limb. Guinea pig flashbacks--and I was outside in a second.

The raccoons were treed by the dog; the screaming chicken was huddled under the shell of the front porch-to-be; W. was trying to figure out how to put it out of what must have been the misery of mortal injury--severed limbs, broken wings.... We brainstormed about the fastest and least painful ways to finish the job: a hammer (too messy), a quick jerk (no nerve), a head in the tailpipe of a running car (hmmm... too suburban?)

I guarded the one chicken left in the coop from a sneak attack. (Never underestimate the tenacity of a raccoon.) W. took a deep breath and went to face the gory mess of the mutilated chicken. He came back with her perfectly intact, in his arms--they clucked softly at each other in what must have been sheer relief on both sides.

We reinforced the coop, rewarded the dog for the crisis averted, and spent the next half hour in the cold drizzle with a failing flashlight trying to find the third chicken. We couldn't believe she had been taken, especially not silently. She is nearly as big as a raccoon herself--and furiously chases the dog around the yard when she gets too close. And no sign of her, not even a stray feather.

But this morning, there she was, waiting outside the garage door, completely unruffled.

Everyone is OK, but I don't think we'll be getting any eggs from the ladies today.