Sunday, August 19, 2007

When you get a good roll of the dice, when Lady Luck smiles on you, takes your head in her two hands and lands a smacker of a kiss square on your chops, embrace your good fortune and make the very most of it! A few years ago, I had cancer and, in a letter of good wishes, a friend used the word “vicissitudes”—sending me scuttling for the dictionary—which well describes the realities (meaning the changing fortunes) of life. If hard times are to be endured, then, in my opinion, good times must be made the most of.

Vladimir, Parisian urban hard-case pet dog of Celine, daughter of our neighbours Paul & Christiane, had come to visit. He’d previously taken a mouthful of feathers from the rump of one of one of our hens but this time he’d managed to escape, race up the lane, kill one of our chickens and run off with it. Realising what had happened, Paul came straight round to see us but found us not at home. On our return, the guests staying in our gite relayed the tale of a Frenchman on a mountain bike with a dead chicken and we put two and two together. They were all very apologetic and Vlad now suffers the indignity of being chained up when outside.

As far as we were concerned, that was the end of the matter but Christiane was determined to make amends and so, very kindly, she appeared at the door a couple of days ago with a fully grown brown cockerel she’d just bought at the poultry farm in the village. He’d been bought for us to eat: it’s a common way of buying chickens here, cheaper than oven-ready. However, we’re short of a male since we consigned our last cockerel to the pot and, seeing this chap sitting docile on the floor, his legs bound by a piece of twine, we thought we’d give him his chance.

He’s been raised in a barn and hadn’t seen the light of day prior to that morning. He’s missing his tail feathers but is otherwise a sturdy chap in good health. We wondered about the wisdom of our intentions when he didn’t seem to possess even the basics of chicken behaviour: he didn’t scratch the earth, peck at grain, or show the remotest interest in any of our hens. They’ve spent two and half days confined to the henhouse to habituate him and the photo above shows him on his very first foray out into the big wide world. Now, if he can only see his opportunity for what it is, thank Lady Luck for his blessings and start cock-a-doodle-dooing and shagging all the hens, he can stay, if not: tant pis old chap, it’s the pot for you!