Letter from Birdland: A good time to take a break

Letter from Birdland: A good time to take a break

The frost teases us in Birdland. It caught about 90 percent of my basil, but a few stalks are still bravely green. I'm going to go out today and cut it and the rest of the parsley, oregano, thyme and marjoram for one last herb frittata.

It will have to tide us over until spring. I'll have to use the last of the eggs, too. The chickens are taking a break from laying with these short days and low light. I feel lucky to get an egg even a few times a week. My black and white spotted hen, Betty, is not laying at all.

Her full name is Betadine Betty. She was the one who, against all odds, survived a long gash in her back from the spurs of an overzealous rooster. All I could do was wash her wound with betadine and tie a bandage around her (that, and send half of the roosters with my sister's mother-in-law to "live in the country").

Every few days, Betty would wriggle out of her bandage, and I would find it caught in the branches of the Quince bush. Then I would repeat the process, until, amazingly, that flap of skin healed, and even her feathers grew back.

Now Betty is in the middle of a molt, no doubt brought on by the change in season. She looks pretty raggedy, but her feathers are coming back in little white quills. By the time the snows fall, she will be warm under her luxurious feather coat.

By the time we cloak the coop in white tarps against the wind, and plug in the lights for warmth, all the hens will be over their molt and laying again. I could go ahead and plug in the lights before their drinking water freezes, but why not give them a little well-deserved rest? We will have plenty of eggs again, when the sun begins to come back.

A haze hangs low over the fields this morning — not a full-blown fog, but a mist that leaches color and blurs detail in layers. The still-green grass in the yard contrasts with my corner meadow, now full of tan foxtail, blackened seed heads of black-eyed Susans and the gray ghosts of goldenrod.

The hedgerow across my uncle's field to the north is like a shadowy silhouette cut from the gray sky. Is it my imagination or is the fog now descending? Encroaching on us?

Now to the south, the tree line on our back fence seems to be fading into the background. The corduroy stripes of the bean stubble lend texture to the field and lead straight back to the hedgerow there.

I walk around the yard and am hit with droplets of water so tiny I can't tell if they are falling from the sky or hanging suspended in the air. Yes. The blanket of fog is definitely thickening, and the circle of visibility is shrinking.

I come inside and settle at my cozy writing desk. Inside our gray cocoon, the troubles of the world fall away. Outside, we hear sobering news of climate change, coupled with the danger of policymakers willfully ignoring the scientific conclusions. We hear about the possible loss of, or cuts to, important tax deductions for middle class families, like student loan interest and mortgage interest.

If we want to foster an educated populace, we should encourage pursuit of higher education, not make it even more prohibitively expensive. If we want to cut into poverty and homelessness, we should encourage home ownership, not only by the very rich, but by regular folks.

But now I can feel my blood pressure rising, my anxieties growing. I don't want to forget about these issues, but just for a foggy morning, it feels healing to have respite from the awareness of danger lurking.

I'll make myself a pot of tea, spend a peaceful hour nestled at my desk, watching the world disappear outside my window. Then this afternoon, I'll get up and stretch my legs, go out into the world and get back to work.

Is it my imagination, or is the fog receding again?

Rest in beauty; work for peace; blessed be.

Mary Lucille Hays lives in Birdland near White Heath. She is passionate about working for a more peaceful and just world, but hopes you will join her in pausing to gather strength for the good fight. You can follow Birdland on Twitter (@BirdlandLetters) and Instagram (@BirdlandLetters). Mary can be reached at letterfrombirdland@gmail.com or via snail mail care of this newspaper.

Sections (1):Living
Topics (2):Environment, Pets
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