Saturday, March 31, 2007

The Wild Chickens of Fair Oaks




Yesterday I spent eight hours (and $150) playing with paints and pastels. It was an introductory course in, let me get this straight: "Using Art In Therapy Safely and Effectively."

It was taught in a lovely, light-filled studio in Fair Oaks Village, a part of Sacramento where chickens run wild. Not so much cluck-cluck birds down on the farm as show roosters and fancy hens that wander the town and roost at will. I don't know chickens (obviously), but these are gorgeous specimens, and I tried to capture that but all I had was my cameraphone, so--sigh--the resulting photos are less than vivid.

I love these chickens. I don't know why. I've never particulary been a chicken-kinda girl, although I did buy my father a couple of chickens one year for his birthday. Rhode Island Reds, which I named Reba and Rachel for no reason that I can remember other than my sometimes unfortunate fondness for alliteration. They lived for a while in a rabbit hutch he found for them and gave eggs which were far too fresh for my taste (I don't like when my food spurs any memory of its original living-being state, and these eggs always had little pieces of chicken shit stuck to the shells). Then some other animal up the food chain, probably a coyote, ate them, and while I was sad for my dad, who had to view the carnage, really, I wasn't all that bummed.

I also had a brief relationship with chickens on my Uncle Julius's farm in Winstead, Connecticut. What a Jewish boy from a wealthy Brooklyn family was doing owning a chicken farm is beyond me, but no one else in my family thought it odd. That's what Uncle Julius did, he had a chicken farm. What I remember about the birds there is wandering into the hen house to collect eggs. Not that I had been sent for that purpose, as no one would send a 3 year old city kid to do that job. I must have figured the chore up all on my own, and I was quite proud of myself, I recall, when I went to show Uncle Julius and my parents all of the eggs I have collected. I had gotten lots of them, and I made room for them all in my jacket by pushing each one down as far as it would go in my little pocket until I had room for the next one. I didn't know why the grownups weren't equally pleased with me.

Those are my only chicken stories--well, there was the time I got stung by a bee in the old hen house at our first place in Gibsonia--so I have no idea why the wild chickens of Fair Oaks so thrill me.

I don't know how they got there--probably the story would be less than I could ever imagine--but there are a variety of birds: speckled ones and chickens with feathery ankles, white ones and some that are so dark as to be blue black. They're very healthy, and fat, and sassy, (although I worry about them whenever there are bird flu scares) and they crow constantly, which is probably more than annoying to those who live in Fair Oaks Village.

There is something about the way in which they have made that urban area their own that thrills me. City schmity--that's the roost they rule.

7 comments:

  1. Bethiclaus10:33 PM

    Birds in general freak me out, but I think I might be bothered by chickens hanging out so close to the city.

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  2. Around here, it's the horses. You might drive down a typical suburban street, and then randomly see a horse paddock in the backyard of a house. I always wonder about the smell, you know?

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  3. Anonymous6:03 PM

    next time you are there stop by the Sunflower Inn for a bite to eat....a fun fun place! Miss L

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  4. Jane,
    I love chickens and hope to have some one day soon; but they do frightne me just a bit. My grandmother had a chicken coop in the back yard of her Northern Westchester County suburban home when I was growing up.

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  5. I heart the Fair Oaks chickens. I like getting massages at Meltdown Massage there on the main drag and then watching them afterward. Especially in the spring when there are little chicks!

    In second place are the Sac State chickens who come from who knows where!

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  6. bethiclaus: you'd think, but actually it's not scarey at all

    Denise: These are so tame. They just strut around, saying look at me, I'm gorgeou

    Queen: Where are the Sac State chickens?

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  7. velma: think what it would be like if the horses were just wandering at will. That's what the chickens do. But then they're just birds, not galumphing mammals.

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So--whaddaya think?