Thursday, January 31, 2013

Painting Over the Memory

I am painting the office/guest room, I couldn't take the flat white nasty primer/paint that the previous owner used.  Their kids had run their hands all along the walls and the dirt just wouldn't come out.  Monday, I just couldn't stand it any longer and began covering it up with a not quite turquoise blue, covering up the ugliness.  It gave an immediate lift to my spirits, each time I caught the blue out of the corner of my eye as I walked down the hallway.

My spirits had needed a bit of lifting.  Our little poultry flock died the previous Wednesday night, the heat lamp, that I had put in to protect them from the 17 degrees predicted, malfunctioned and set the coop on fire.  We only found out about it because our neighbor was walking his dogs and pounded on our door at 9:45 PM, to tell us in Kentuckian," Yer pin is on fahr.", he repeated it a couple of times and then added the word "animal" before "pin" and suddenly I understood him and bolted to the back of the house to see flames reaching three feet into the sky above the coop.  It was clear that it was too late for the flock, but we ran out in our bare feet and pajamas and attempted to save what we could of the coop and the run.  The faucet was frozen in the off position, so we scurried in and out of the house (75 feet away) with a dishpan and a bucket until the coop was a big pile of wet ashes.  The run can be saved, it lost only one board.

Most of the chickens and ducks were found to the front right of the coop, where the heaters were.  One was all by herself in the back.  I didn't cry as we pulled them out, but my husband did.  I was all business through the whole process he complained.

We both cried when we told our daughter that the flock was gone.  She said she wanted to see the coop, and we took her out with her feetie jammies jammed into her sneakers to see. She saw the tiniest bit of movement and pointed it out, but it was just a wisp of steam or smoke coming off the ruins.  She had held out a bit of hope that we had been wrong about all our chickies not making it.  She moaned that making the coop had been a lot of work, she had been with us for the majority of its construction and realized that it took the better part of five weekends to build, and time during the week as well.  It was possum and raccoon secure, we had put at least two different latches on each opening to keep the critters out and the chickens in, but it was their undoing--the fire started and they couldn't get out.  Although, anyone who has seen a sleeping chicken knows that they aren't likely to run anywhere--they don't just sleep, they enter unconsciousness.  Chickens that during the day won't let you near them will just sit when you pick them up asleep.  You can flip them upside-down and tickle their tummies and they do nothing.  I feel guilty, despite the knowledge that they wouldn't run out, the ducks might have, they are more alert at night.  We locked them in.  The poor things.

When we cleaned up a bit and headed to bed our daughter joined us in our bed for the first time in a few years.  Dad and daughter fell asleep quickly, but Mom, it was her turn to cry.  I didn't sleep at all that night, I stood at the kitchen widow looking out at where the coop had been and watched the snow fall and accumulate.  I kept seeing a flash of one of the ducks being passed to me out of the ashes from time to time.My daughter and I buried the flock the next morning, we placed a spruce bough from their favorite perching tree on top of their grave..

On Monday, finding myself alone and needing something big to keep me busy, I pulled out my trusty favorite paintbrush and slipped the roller cover on the handle and began to paint.  Cleaning up one mess that was bugging me, probably because I can't clean that duck out of my brain.

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