Whew. That’s a long day: driving from Amagansett to JFK, flying across the country, waiting for another plane…but totally worth it! It was great to be there and great to be back.The animal head count was exactly the same when we returned as when we left. No murders, losses or, God forbid – additions! I saw a Shiba Inu curled up in the window of a jewelry store in East Hampton and found myself making a mental note to check out breeders when a large red stop sign (in the form of the Chicken Emperor braying ABSOLUTELY NOT!) wiped that fantasy straight away. Sigh. The truth is, we’re at canine, and animal, capacity, so no Shibas, no Nigerian Pygmy Goats…at least not THIS year.
So I gave away any note of suspense as to how the chickens’ well-being in the first sentence, and that is one of the myriad reasons why I am not a best-selling writer, like Michael Pollan, whose book, The Omnivore’s Dilemma, I fully intended to read while we were on holiday. Alas, I only made it halfway through Dante’s Purgatorio, as each line therein must be savored, not to mention accompanied by three or more forms of Cliffs Notes in order to fully understand. Ahh, to have the brain of a 20-year-old again, and not waste it on things other than literature.
The basic premise of The Purgatorio is that, once emerging from their tour through Hell (The Inferno, which is more juicily interspersed with grotesque images, is generally the only part of The Divine Comedy anyone reads or remembers), Dante and Virgil do not pass GO or collect $100, but head straight to the ante-room of Mt. Purgatory. Those of you who do not choose to spend your summer accompanying them there can learn here what I learned: the concept of Purgatory may or may not be completely a human invention! According to Dorothy Sayres, my preferred Divine Comedy translator, the idea of Purgatory, which allows for a loophole in the “straight to hell” handbasket, began in the 2nd century and was then adopted by the Catholic Church as part of their accepted doctrine.
The faithful claim that the idea of Purgatory pre-dated scripture and was part of the Revelation of the Jews, so the fact that it isn’t specifically mentioned in Scripture doesn’t mean anything. The truth? Oh, who knows the truth about anything. Personally, I like the idea that there might be an eensy “out” for me on the road to perdition. God knows I need it.
Once a Catholic, always a Catholic, but before I head back to the subject of chickens, I must say I took just a nun’s wimple of umbrage at The Church when I read (in the trashy gossip rag The Chicken Emperor insists on purchasing at airport newsstands) that Mel Gibson has been granted an annulment from his 29-year marriage. Not from the Pope, at least, which leaves me a holy water’s chance in hell of hanging on to my rosary. No, this annulment is from Mel’s OWN church that he OWNS, called “The Holy Family Chapel Church”, where a tribunal, led by Mel’s FATHER, handed down the decree. Sing along with me (if you were born before 1965) “I’m Henry The VIIIth I am, Henry the VIIIth I am, I am…” (That song actually has taken on new significance for me since I accompanied Peter Noone, Herman’s Hermit himself on the great stage of the El Montecito Early School kindergarten room back in 1990-something…)
The route may be circuitous, but here we are back at chickens. The Princes of Poultry did an OUTSTANDING job taking care of them and all the other animals; thus, if anyone is looking for a chicken wrangler with a degree from Princeton, do let me know since I have just the guy for you.
The girls are MUCH bigger than when we left. They seem to have remembered me or at least the sound of my voice. They’ve also adapted to using the ladders inside the coop. At 8 weeks of age, their bodies have taken on the shape of adult hens, even though we still have three months or so to go before they start laying eggs.