Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Walter the Chicken

Lately I've been thinking about Walter the Chicken. Walter was not an ordinary chicken, at least by birth. He wasn't hatched in a cozy nest all warm and snug. Walter was an unwitting volunteer in my brother John's eighth grade science class project. The class had been learning about the development of chicken embryos. Each student was assigned a day on which an egg would be taken from the incubator and cracked open to see what had developed. On John's day, the process went on as usual with the exception that when he carefully cracked open the shell, out popped a live, cheeping ball of yellow fuzz....Walter. Now this wasn't the only time John had encountered a baby bird. I can remember at least three times he had "rescued" some barely alive robin or sparrow hatch-ling. He'd run excitedly into the house with a little lump of naked bird flesh cradled in his palm announcing that he was going to raise the orphaned fowl and see that it was safe from predators such as cats, etc. I don't think he ever really thought about the fact that bringing a bird into a house that was owned by a barely domesticated Tom-cat might actually be putting said bird in harms way. None-the-less, his enthusiasm normally won the day and we would prepare a make-shift ICU for the hatch-ling out of a shoe box and shredded newspaper. We'd place the box on top of the TV (in our home the TV was nearly always on so it was deemed to be the warmest place in the house), make up a concoction of mushed up eggs yolks, milk and the occasional worm and force feed the poor thing with an eyedropper. This process would go on until, predictably, the nestling passed on to a happier reward...normally withing a couple of days. Anyway, true to form, John promptly adopted the chick, named him Walter and brought him home where Walter, just as promptly, imprinted on my brother, following him everywhere he went. Walter, surprisingly, did not suffer the same fate as his predecessors and managed to avoid the growing birdie graveyard behind our house. Ah, it was a heart warming sight to see a boy and his chicken romping merrily through the house and yard. Life was good. However, eventually Walter got to be too large to be adequately housed in a duplex in the middle of town and the day finally arrive when Walter had to head out to greener pastures....which in this case was a friends farm. The separation was difficult at first. John missed his faithful friend and Walter seemed a little lost without the only mother he had ever known. Walter didn't like the other chickens much, he had no idea what they were and having no mirror didn't realize they were just like him. He'd been used to seeing himself as a somewhat more noble creature than a lowly chicken. Therefore, he sought out companionship from a loftier form....the horses. For whatever reason, Walter felt comfortable with the horses and spent his days either racing around trying to avoid their hooves or perched atop their shoulders, his feathers flowing in the wind as they.....well, stood and ate their oats.... For their part, the horses didn't seem to be aware that Walter even existed. Even when he was riding around on their backs, they seemed to pay him no heed. This indifference must have stung Walter's little chicken heart because one morning, he was found floating in one of the horses water troughs. Some said he had been swimming and foolishly forgot to bring a buddy along. Other's said the exhilaration of a swift morning ride on the back of one of his equine friends must have overwhelmed his chicken system causing a stroke which dropped him into his watery grave. John believes he knows, though. He believes his feathered friend simply found little solace in horsing around and seeing little hope of ever truly becoming like his flowing maned heroes, committed himself to a solitary end.
His story didn't end on that fateful day. He has ever been remembered as an inspiration to all who attempt to be more than others would have them be. He may have met and ignominious end but his spirit lives on in all who would aspire to change the stigma of stereotyping that would have them submit to lesser things than their hearts would call them to be. We miss you Walter. Rest in peace......................Later

Monday, March 1, 2010

Rod Stewart

Lately I've been thinking about Rod Stewart. Well, not really about Rod but about one of his songs. Don't get me wrong. I like the man.....though he is a bit thin for my taste and his hair is kind of strange. Then there's that nose......but anyway, I'm off the track.....again. As I said, I've been thinking about one of Rod's songs, "Forever Young". I heard it again the other day on the radio and, as usually happens, my mind is drawn to the words and to my son, Brad. I don't really know why this song makes me think of him but since the first time I heard it my mind goes instantly to this young man who is not enough in my life. Not only does my mind turn to him but my heart does also. I suppose that's natural. I don't think it strange that a parent's heart becomes involved in any thought of one of their children. But why Brad with this song? I have two wonderful daughters also and three great children that Regina brought into my life. But this song seems to be Brad's alone. I've thought about this and I've come to the conclusion that its because the words probably voice what every father would want for his grow up "proud, dignified and true"; "to do unto others as you'd have done to you"; "may good fortune be with you may your guiding light be strong". What father hasn't wished those things for their sons? Then there's the part that makes me take stock of myself and whether I have measured up; "When you finally fly away I'll be hoping that I served you well". I don't imagine there has ever been a father who didn't wonder if he had carried out his responsibilities to his children well. If the proof is in the result, then maybe I did pretty good. Brad is well into his adulthood now. He managed to get a bright and vivacious young woman to marry him and he's working on his first year of law school. He has accomplished quite a lot and is certainly a man of whom a father can be proud. Life hasn't been without challenges but he's met them and kept going. So this is to Brad. If you ever happen to read this just know that "...whatever road you choose, I'm right behind you win or lose." In my heart you will always be "Forever Young"...................Later