Chickens Climb a Tree

21 Jan

In the heart of the winter, I decided to live more consciously. I took a bus to a town with a clear view of the Alps and booked a room in a convent. The monastery was on a hill on the edge of town. I could see the snow glistening on the Alps from my window, and I thought of the Quechua word for mountain: urqu. It also means brother. I decided that was the perfect way of living more consciously: with the perception of nature as your brother! So I left my room to roam the grounds, breathe the fresh country air, and above all: Observe nature and all its miracles consciously!

Between the convent and the woods was a small farm. The nuns worked in greenhouses, made oils and honeycomb soaps. Horses stood on the horizon and shook their wild manes. I walked around the farm and stopped before a chicken pen. I decided this was the perfect place to begin observing nature consciously.

The chickens pecked at the ground habitually, with little interest in it or their findings. They stopped immediately as I sat down, and eyed me. They clearly had their doubts about me. Not a muscle moved, except for the eyes, which searched me frantically. Thanks to the telepathic talents of chickens, the King Rooster was informed and he immediately bounded over from the other side of the pen. He was clearly thrilled about all the commotion. His entourage, two hens on either side of him, spurted to keep up with their muscular young king and looked at me with annoyance.

The hens all made room for him. His quick sideways glance obviously said, “Is anybody hurt? Don’t worry, I’ll take care of this.” Feeling safe now that their king was here, the hens went back to pecking at the ground.

The rooster placed himself squarely before me, shook his comb and wattle intimidatingly and glared at me with his red eyes. The message was clear: I was not to cause any trouble. He glared for a while, obviously suspicious that I didn’t back away in fear, so he stretched his neck several times to appear larger. His entourage was impressed and clucked approvingly among themselves. They all felt he was dealing with this very well.

The rooster turned to squawk something at his fellow chickens. The trouble was over. I was allowed to stay, but I wasn’t to move a muscle, or else… Relaxing, the hens stopped pecking at the ground. They had been standing beneath a tree with low branches and now they turned to look up at it. I realised one chicken had been sitting on a branch all this time. She squawked down at the others and one of the hens stepped forward to meet her challenge.

She shook her feathers, spread her wings, and with a bustle of desperate flapping, squawking and screeching, she tumbled onto the lowest branch. Proudly, she looked around. The first chicken had watched from her higher branch and now she stood up. Opening her wings and with a short run, she screeched as she desperately flapped her way up onto the next branch. Barely reaching it, she grabbed onto a small twig with her beak, pulled herself up, and squawked down mockingly at the second chicken.

But a third chicken was already flapping up. In mid-flight, she tumbled onto the second chicken’s branch and shook her head to show what little effort it had caused her. She sat down fatly and cooed as though she were about to lay an egg. The second chicken was scandalised at this behaviour, and began flapping her wings, almost knocking the third chicken and herself off the branch. She took a small run and landed two branches higher. Everyone cheered and, euphoric with her own magnificence, she immediately took another small run and flapped desperately. She aimed for the first chicken’s branch, fell off it and landed back on her own branch.

Chickens swarmed at the base of the tree. They were all flapping their wings now and squawking with ambition, but none of them ever made it off the ground. Their small wings were at an obvious disadvantage to that well-fed chicken belly. Nevertheless, they were trying. And after an hour’s work, what they had to show for it were five chickens on five different branches. They crowed victoriously at the ones still on the ground. They hopped onto lower branches, flapped back up, hopped down again – and a soft mattress of feathers fluttered down to the base of the tree.

I’ll never know what possessed the chickens to start climbing a tree, but this may be one of the many secret Lives & Passions of the Chicken. Who knows? Who knows? I just want to know: I decided to watch nature consciously that day, and it wrecked my mind. Expanded my perception. No LSD required.

But I worry: What else is going on out there???????????????

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2 Responses to “Chickens Climb a Tree”

  1. ThatOneMan January 21, 2011 at 10:14 pm #

    Brilliant! 🙂

    • ThatSecondMan January 22, 2011 at 5:45 pm #

      I like it a lot….

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