In the Night

Last night, in the middle of a fitful sleep, I was awoken by a memory and urged (by my muse?) to write it down. It’s the memory of an event that happened when I lived in Dixon, New Mexico, some years ago – a seemingly small event, perhaps, but the heartbreak of it resonates right now.

Dixon is a charming little farming community located in a fertile valley just south of Taos. I’d bought a small house – my “dream house,” I thought then – with over an acre of land on which I’d planted a large vegetable garden, a lavender field, and a long, lush raspberry patch. Friends visiting from New York labeled the place my “farmette.” I even raised chickens – not to kill and eat, of course, but rather as companionable pets.

This whole scene was a dream-come-true for me. I hadn’t grown up on a farm. I grew up in suburban northern New Jersey, and our back yard was only slightly larger than a badminton court. Chickens, for me then, were only found in packages – skinned and cut up – in the meat department of our local Acme supermarket. I never knew a chicken in the feathered flesh.

So while in Dixon, basking in the back-to-earth-ness of my new lifestyle in the early 2000s, I got some adorable baby chicks. And I promptly adored them. I put them in a large cardboard box, fitted with a warming lamp, and kept them close to my bed in the house. I talked to them, petted them, cuddled them, fed them and protected them from my territorial indoor cat, Blue, until they were old enough and strong enough to live outdoors.

I had a nice man make a henhouse for them, and I put their new house inside a large, dog-run type of enclosure made of chain-link fencing, next to my house. They were happy. They were secure.

I didn’t give them individual names – because they were all red hens who looked exactly alike. I called them all “Chickie-Chickie-Chick,” and each of them answered to that.

Even as adults they let me hold them and pet them as if they were puppies, instead of “just” barnyard animals. When I stretched out on a chaise lounge on my deck to read a book, they hopped up on my legs to perch, as if I were a tree. When I let them roam in the front field and then needed them to come home before dark, I stood on my deck and called their collective name, “Chickie-Chickie-Chick!” waving a corn tortilla as if it were the setting sun. And they’d come running, excitedly, wobblingly, toward me, across the field and toward our respective houses. Corn tortillas and fresh corn on the cob were their favorite treats.

This went on for a long while.

Then one night, in the middle of the night, I was awoken by a commotion in the chickens’ pen. What could it be? I wondered. A bear? A coyote? These were possibilities. My house was near woods where such hungry predators passed through.

I turned on my front light. Saw nothing. I listened for more noise. None. I went back to bed.

But the next morning I saw the devastation: A weasel had burrowed beneath the secure fencing and up into the hens’ area and slaughtered them all. He hadn’t eaten them; oh, no, his goal was just to kill, for the sport of it, it appeared. My beloved chickens’ broken, bloody necks and limp, red-feathered bodies were strewn all over the pen.

I was numb with an overload of emotion. I couldn’t speak for three days. My “dream house” had, overnight, become a nightmare. Not long after this incident, I decided to sell the house and move away. I moved to the town of Taos, where chickens were not a possibility for me.

 

It seems that the results of the presidential election this week have brought this memory back because the grief that I’m feeling over the senselessness and horror of it feels the same. I and millions of other Americans were so convinced on Monday that love would trump hate. Instead, late in the night after Tuesday’s election results were tallied, I was reminded of the ugly truth that sometimes weasels win.

 

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22 thoughts on “In the Night”

  1. I’m afraid weasels win more often than we’d like to admit. Look at the Republican congress. Great analogy, Bonnie. On another note, though, I like to think that love DID trump hate. At least in the popular vote it did. Can you imagine if he’d won the popular vote and lost the electoral? Oy…

  2. Oh Bonnie….what a piece of writing! And it is true…sometimes weasels DO win….but not for long….not forever….there are far more good people – who will overcome, eventually….Weasels don’t win for long!
    XXXXX Pamela

  3. Bonnie, I wondered where you were going with this; a most appropriate analogy in the end. So many of us are numb right now. All we can do for now is hold on to our heads and our hearts and keep on with the good fight.

  4. Analogy skilfully made, Bonnie! I’m afraid it’s official: the lunatics are indeed running the asylum!
    Scottish Independence….Brexit…Trump…Putin…Korean Krackpot…do we never learn from history? Hitler….?
    But NIHIL DESPERANDUM, my friend, or else they win!!
    Love and best wishes
    Sandra.

  5. Beautiful post, Bonnie. I’m still feeling blindsided by the election. I’m taking a wait and see stance before I get behind Trump. I figure, in eight years the GOP didn’t get behind President Obama, I’ve got plenty of time. Sending a big hug your way . Love you, Arti

  6. What an apt analogy! Beautifully put. We’re grieving here, for party, for country, for our sweet earth. Alas!
    Love to you, Marge

  7. So true! I have been so down since Tuesday, just devastated AND angry. I feel, as a woman, betrayed. I gag whenever I think of them being in the White House. What a travesty. We just have to keep loving, and fighting the good fight, in whatever way we can…

    1. Thank you, dear Jane. I so agree with you. The guy is a monster, yet most people (who never had the great misfortune of having been married to a man like him) don’t realize (yet) the harm he’s capable of.

  8. Bonnie, I along with so many of my friends and nearly all of my family feel the same hopelessness and despair. My television has not even been on since Tuesday night. And I don’t know what to do.

    1. Wish I could be there and HUG you, Delma! We’re all needing a whole lot of comfort right about now. These are difficult times, but we have no choice but to get through them. Mucho love from MX, BB xx

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