Tuesday, February 25, 2014

The continuity of ducks and the uncanniness of chickens

"Twenty-three years ago I fed these identical ducks with these identical sandwiches [...] How fleeting are all human passions compared with the massive continuity of ducks."
          —Lord Peter Wimsey in Dorothy Sayers’ Gaudy Night

This past weekend was absurdly pleasant and spring-like, even for the DC area. Earnestine and I did our best to take advantage of it with long walks on which we admired blossoming snow-drops and crocuses (me) and sniffed every single patch of monkey-grass exposed by the melted snow (her).

On Sunday morning we took a walk around the neighborhood and hesitated near an entrance to the creek path, considering whether or not to loop home through the park.

As we paused, a noise that I have never heard before—and hope never to hear again—came rising up from somewhere behind the houses across the street. It was not quite braying, not quite moaning: an ascending, wavering cry that echoed out again and again over the landscape.

Earnestine and I exchanged startled looks. Was it the howl of a maddened were-goat? The cry of a ghost donkey? My best guess—having once seen suburban hens in another yard in this area—was that it was the mutant crowing of some kind of chicken, possibly one possessed by a demon.

We didn’t stay to speculate or explore. As one, we turned and trotted back the way we came, leaving the creek path—and its fell, fowl guardians—alone.

{A note: I do write all text and take all pictures. Please do not reproduce either without my permission.}


Anca said...

Thanks for making me laugh out loud at the perils of spring.

Marly Youmans said...

I once bought a house in South Carolina from a nutty woman who had incurred the wrath of the neighborhood by buying a tray of chicks that turned out to be roosters and letting them go. They found homes in the gulleys that ran through the city and screamed everyone awake at dawn. Evidently they endured for years in those retreats... Chickens loom large!

Olivia V. Ambrogio said...

I too would would resent a neighbor who unleashed such terrifying--and banshee-like--creatures on the community! I'm assuming that since you bought the house from her the woman was not, in a poetic-justice fashion, killed by feral chickens--but I like to think that she was haunted by them...

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