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
Not done yet!
2 years ago