It was a Monday morning in April and I woke up to a rooster crowing. I hobbled to the bathroom to get ready for the day. While brushing my teeth I peered out the second story window through the large oak tree shading the driveway. My mom and aunt sat together at a small table drinking coffee, checking their phones, and reading. The rooster was still crowing intermittently and looked comically small compared to the 10 or so hens that seemed to really rule the front yard. They were too busy scratching around the dirt beneath the tree looking for food to notice the little rooster strutting about.
The morning previous was nice and leisurely. I poured my coffee and joined my mom and aunt beneath the tree and walked around my aunt’s 5-acre property to see how it had changed over the years. The lake was still there; with remnants of childhood games barely overgrown with grass. I remembered bonfires and golf cart rides with my cousins. They grew up playing in the 5-acre wilderness. I grew up in the suburbs. Things they got to do everyday, like fishing, hunting, riding dirt bikes through actual dirt, making bonfires, and encountering wild animals (besides squirrels) all seemed so exotic to me. My preferred game always was playing with Barbies in the air-conditioning.
Nowadays, my eldest cousin is establishing a trapping business and honeybee farm on the property. His chickens, which provide eggs for house and for the dogs, are free range in every sense of the word, roosting at night in the oak tree over the driveway. They use the table to jump up to the branches and have no problem doing so while you sit there as well. They would rush at you also if you stood in the driveway. I couldn't decide if the chickens were territorial and saw me as a threat or if they simply had no fear of humans. I started a habit of running from the car to the house, to be on the safe side.
This morning was not leisurely. After a chaotic weekend of visiting with family and friends it was time to get to work. I was in town to assist my mother with one of her interior design jobs. It sounds glamorous but involves an exhaustive schedule. We had only a few minutes in the early morning to throw together our purses and lunches for the day along with anything we might need for a stay overnight in a hotel. I ran my things out to the car parked under the oak tree. While situating my things I realized I forgot something and ran back inside to retrieve it. This is when I made a terrible mistake. Even after many warnings from my aunt, I accidently left the car door open. Upon returning to the car with my mom, I realized my failure just as one of the chickens hopped up onto the floorboard and then onto the back seat. I started screaming, paralyzed with fear. I just stood there. What should I do? How do you get a chicken out of a car? What if it poops on the seat or on my handbag? What if it lunges at me? We were both dressed to visit with clients, not to deal with farm animals.
Just then my mom opened the other door, snatched the chicken by the tail feathers, and tossed it back onto the driveway all in one swift movement. “Get in the car and shut the door,” she said as if she didn't just touch the chicken. I couldn’t believe she just did that. No fear at all and in her nice clothes no less. I was still awestruck a few miles down the road when I finally said, “How did you do that? You saved my life!” She laughed and reminded me that she too grew up living the exotic life of my cousins. When she was a little girl it was her duty to feed the chickens before school every day. I gained a whole new respect for my mother that morning - my mother, the hero.