the harshest of springs


no one will want to visit this page if things continue on as they have. I made this piece today of a bird with her heart bleeding surrounded by assorted supple greens. that bird is me. i took the little painting and pinned it to a green velvet backing inside of a mexican tin nicho. the painting is surrounded with twigs and feathers....including the feathers of one Mean Dovey Cooledge.

first was the bad news on Trout's eyes and now i have lost my other elder stateswoman of a hen. the feathers in the shrine are those i had saved long ago from when i made the "creatura" stick crosses. there were no feathers to be found yesterday. i let the chicks out of their pens and Dovey made a bee line for the basement where i have a laying box for her. i checked on her and found an egg but no sign of Dovey. i wasnt too worried she was used to picking around down there or heading back to the yard.

i was watching closely the new chicks -less experienced with the dangers than Dovey, they stayed with me at all times. Dovey was used to ranging on to wherever she wanted, just like Red did. late afternoon became early evening and i hadn't seen her so i started looking in all the familiar places. nothing. the girl in the garage apartment helped me. we covered my yard and across the street, next door -two doors, three doors sheds, cars, the house. i called her and she always answered if she could hear me. dread set in and deepened with the color of sky.

(here is Dovey enjoying a dry moment last week)

i never heard a thing. night came and she never returned. her perch on top of V's basement TV stood silent and without its crowning glory of a hen who annoyed him with her persistence to perch there. he made a little cardboard platform for her. it was lined with fresh newspaper waiting for her to decorate it with fertilizer. i made a mix of laying crumbles and oyster shells to try and help her eggs survive; their shells were thin like paper and broke when you picked then up. The laying mix sat in her dish untouched.Looking at the empty space i reflected on how V has always accommodated the chickens, God love him, and when i called him this morning he was crushed to learn she was gone. as was my friend in the garage apartment. she wept as she folded her clothes last night-the basement is where the chickens are at night - because it is safer than out in the pens.

so much for me staying home from California to watch over the pets.

Hawks flew over the yard most of the morning. i noticed there was a young hawk with the pair. I have no way of knowing how Dovey disappeared. its worse than when we lost Red -at least we knew what happened. there is no way not to blame myself. and yet i cannot be everywhere at once or have a creature confined in a cage at all times. both Red and Dovey had 5 years with us.

now we are left with Easter and "Dusty" because that hen, formerly named "olivia", is a rooster. (this photo is from their first day out in the field - running wild)

Dovey thought she was the king pin of the yard. the whole household really. and her little personality began to shine without Red. It occurred to us that perhaps we had always thought Red was the sweeter hen and never gave Dovey a chance to show us how engaged she could be. Maybe she was "mean" because we always favored Red. you'd think with that little bitty head and the little bitty brain inside it i am surely projecting meaning where it doesnt exist; but i tell you these chickens have fully developed personalities complete with bad and good moods.

i took the photo above last week at the cabin. she had started wanting to be inside with everybody. i came in and caught her up on my bed -no this wasnt a staged photo. i think she wanted to be treated as an equal member in the family. i wish she could know that she will surely be missed like an equal member of the family. i dreamed i found her under the bed and was so happy. when i woke up from the dream, my heart was broken freshly as if it was brand new news.

the days have been marked with violent stormy afternoons and so much rain that i havent been able to work on my soil at all. no seeds are in the ground and i am getting a very late start. i almost dont have the heart for it now. it just doesnt seem idyllic as it did when i imagined having Dovey hanging out with me -and before i learned Trouts sighted days could be shortened. the wildflowers i planted were coming up but standing in puddles of water. limbs from the giant virginia pines littered the field and tender trillium were torn by hail.

tomorrow i will detail the house so it will be very nice for V to return to. and then i will head out to Chickory once again with Trout and the young pullet and cockerel. there is no option but to look forward with faith in goodness and beauty to come. because the sorrows are always with us. our job is to savor the little victories of light and grace; the gift of a million greens, fragrant honeysuckle on a cool wind and the next deep breath of life.


  1. Heartbroken again. I have no words. I hope my creatura stick that I have from you has Dovey's feathers. If you'd like it back let me know and I will put it in the mail.

    Excuse me now while I go have a good cry.

  2. "there is no option but to look forward with faith in goodness and beauty to come. because the sorrows are always with us. our job is to savor the little victories of light and grace; the gift of a million greens, fragrant honeysuckle on a cool wind and the next deep breath of life."

    I'm printing this out. Bless you.

    xoxoxo - drink that tequila, detail your house and you and V can mourn together.

  3. no shamu. it cant be in a better place than with you. funny how the bad news stacked up like a multi car pile up on a highway. surely there will be lots of open road ahead?and ... i believe i have a visit to look forward to? thank you so much for your kind words here today and all through the week of Trout news. you have been a good friend to me and that is evidence of a blessed life.

  4. boxer: it was great to talk with you on the phone. i wish all of us from the summit lived in the old lady motel you described. but as we talked i knew i would go ahead with my plans- and learn to love the new chicks as i did the established hens, get even more chicks, train Trout now for her future and turn my eye to the future - a new seeing eye pup? hopefully a learning curve summer and a few surprises of victory even? let it be so! thank you so much. xo

  5. Once again, my heart breaks for you. I wish I could just be there to hug you and cry with you. This post made me wanna cry.

    I see a sparkle of light pressing through all that darkness. It's you. And love. And hope. And courage.

    A seeing eye pup ... yeah.


  6. I don't know what to is heartbreaking. It changes the rhythm of everything when we lose a beloved pet. The last time I lost a pet (a bunny), I kept saving greens for her, forgetting that she wasn't still with us. I'm so sorry. I hope you feel better soon - and that better days are ahead for you.

  7. faery: i loved that post you wrote about being mantissa and graffiti and reefer....finally roxanne. and i knew them all. that post reminds me to let it be what it is.

    here is a funny story i dedicate to you: i gave up my two roosters cause i wanted hens. i took a hen from the feed and seed and she turned out to be a he. now he enjoys the life that shouldve gone to avila, the original rooster mistaken for a hen. (grherhaha)

    thanks so much for your sweetness xo

    yoborobo: how funny i had that same thought at the grocery tonight. that i would buy sunflower seeds as a treat for dovey.

    you had a pet rabbit? i can so see that. - thinking of your plushy creatures. thanks so much for the good wishes. from your lips to Gods ears

    enemy: my spring is your winter. what a year. thank you so much.

  8. talking to you was inspiring.

  9. Your writing is beautiful and your love inspiring. I, like boxer will print out that last paragraph to help me through those days when I feel like I just want to lie down in the soft green grass forever. We're thinking about you and Trout and the pullets and bless M. Dovey Coolidge may she be hangin' with Red once again. Much Love, Susan, Winnie Dixon, Bleet, Oliver & the Lil' Man

  10. Aw, Chile', so much grief in a short spell. Them creatures had the best possible life wif' you and V. An' Aunty will say that yore V is an amazin' fella to love them chicks like he do.....

    Chickory is so beautiful, an the rains make things grow real fast--jes' go on an plant now, all that good rain will jump start your seedlin's an' they's gonna catch up the lost week.

    Youse a lady of deep wisdom, wee Mountain' Chile', an' afore ya know it, yore life will reflect them million greens and the honeysuckle perfumed air.

  11. Sweetie, I am so very sorry for the grief you've had lately. If I was closer, I'd come and sit a spell with you. lots of love and hugs to you this morning and always.

  12. What a beautiful but sad post, I have tears streaming down my face...I am so very sorry my dearest girl, you have had more than your share of grief lately.
    I was talking with my son this morning, the one who has MS, I was telling him about Trout and he said that if they have the diagnosis correct the drops will definitely help and he certainly hopes she gets better.
    We were discussing the sadness that has come into your life and I said after the loss of Red and Liseux you still have little Dovey and the new chicks, I'm so sorry to hear this news...there is nothing worse than not knowing.
    They do have feelings and they are more knowing than we realise, I'm pleased Dovey started to shine in her own way, what a shame it was so short lived.
    You go through all of this and still you write something as beautiful as that last paragraph, I commend your bravery when you are so sad and heartbroken; dont ever lose that beauty that is in your soul, you and V are such good people.
    I pray that Dovey is with Red now and little Liseux and that the way forward will be for a happy sighted Trout running through those meadows with you.
    God bless you and V and I hope the future brings much deserved happiness.
    Much love, your friend Dianne. ♡

  13. i am so very, very sorry ....
    i've become rather fond of your chickens ..
    and trout.

  14. You gave Mean Dovey such an awesome life. You didn't cage her 24/7 and you immortalized her in art and in this blog and we took her for our own, too. Unlike us humans, animals pass on through whatever their fate is, oblivious to that thing we call time. They leave us behind, heartbroken, but also better off for having shared our worlds.

    Peace to you, mi amiga.

  15. I like the picture but I'm sorry for how you feel. Hope things will turn out the way you wish for the future!

  16. You words are as profound as your grief. Your parting words are so relevant and forward-looking. I feel for you and hope find a bit of happiness today.
    My heart goes out to you and hope also that Trout has many wonderful, sighted days left with you.

  17. I want to tell you that I had a schnauzer who lost her sight due to glaucoma. She had diabetes which probably added to this problem. I know from what you speak; it is terribly sad, but we, like the dogs we love, learn to adjust.

  18. boxer: talking with you was a Godsend. your voice a comfort and you made me laugh. i have felt like i lived in the PNW lately with this rain. today though is shockingly bright and though empty of a certain big personality, the yard looks lovely.

    susan: i have been reading; you have so much on your plate. im hoping for you a summer full of adventure and great progress on the CE. I am going to follow your lead there...and build it. love to you and all your beloved creatures. i know you still regard with love those who have passed as will i. i will never take them off my sidebar. xo

    aunty: you know what i was thinking about mother teresa a lot lately. just that infinite look of patient faith. i want to be that person that overlooks the hardship and sees straight through to the blessings. let this summer be a learning curve in more ways than one. i am running out of time. we all are. i am going to treat every minute as precious. cause, it is. thanks so much aunty. love to you.

    dani: you are not going to let me have cotton now! and i couldnt blame you. your sweetness means so much and i would love those hugs. know that your lovely garden and your own example of fortitude has been an inspiration to me. xo

  19. dianne: i am so touched that you talked with your sun about Trouts glaucoma. im encouraged by how well her readings were friday. of course, i have to take her back to the eye specialist to discuss the long term management. but like i said -this summer will be all about living outside with her having as many adventures as possible.

    it has been grief and grief again this spring. for so many of us. i wonder sometimes is it not a training for something coming? let me be the general then, in the front lines. im going to teach myself to defy sorrow -first by feeling it fully and passing through grief and then on to joy which is the rightful place for us all. xoxox to you dear friend.

    foamy: thank you so much my friend. i wish you would come see me this summer. id love to have you. your friendship and kind words are so appreciated. and i love that you knew my chicks. xoxox

    moi: when i heard your sweet voice on the phone i wept -not cause i was sadder still but the gentle positive tone of the call. like pale sunlight busting through clouds. i so thank you - i couldnt call back i was so choked up. i cant believe i have lost another hen. dont you know i have gone over it again and again..."what if i had...."

    i wonder if you are tight about animals not knowing time. i think i read somewhere when you leave your dog to him 3 days is the same as 3 hours. how is that known? anyway - i hope Dovey knew she was loved. i think she did. i really do. love to you friend.

  20. sara sophia ganborg:welcome to chickory. you have come on a sad day. i promise that later this year this site will a far more joyous place to visit. thanks for your kind words. i love the art piece too -i made another one with a different bird, and will make one for Trout this week. i may post them later.

    lizzy frizzfrock: thank you for stopping by. i appreciate your kind words. i am going to make it my business to find happiness today. for one thing, i am going to approach the house chores with a good attitude - i hate housework. but, my V will return tonight and his spring has been stressful too. nothing feels better than to return from a trip to home that is neat as a pin with something good to eat on the stove. ha! it is funny for me to read such a thing from my hand. i am definitely a farm league wife...bush league even. hahaha

    and thanks for telling me about your schnauzer. i dont know what it will be like -but i will worry about it later. i have started training for when Trout cant see now. and, am thinking about a pup too.

  21. Don't think like that! You are wonderful! If there ever does come a time that we have to get rid of her, you'd be my one and only pick. xoxo

  22. Just swooping by to check up on you dear dog.

    and on Trout.

    I have absolutely nothing to say - no words of comfort or wisdom. Just thinking of you.


  23. My dear friend...I've known your spirit was here and I hope you felt mine. I thought of you several times while digging the grave and of the ways we say goodbye. Letting nature take it's course with Red was right, and no less difficult than what I did.

    Yesterday the "mom's" in my life were here, as well as sisters and nephews and my sweet little niece- and my kids. Tim turned 40 yesterday and it was a day of celebration, but it did feel a bit odd that a week ago I wept all day.

    Every single day your Bunny watches over me at the kitchen sink, and the Rottie is on my mantle. Our "Men in Black" photo hangs on my dressing table mirror- you must know that not a day is able to pass when you don't cross my mind.

    My heart aches for you, and alongside you in the difficult moments, and I can't help but feel you smile on me when I tend to my tomato vines, and dozen flowers, and to the little Carolina wrens who are building a nest in a hanging basket of petunias just outside my kitchen window.

    Despite the distance and diffrent paths we're on- there is no distance between friends- and we are blessed with such- which is so evident on this page alone.

    On this day- I send you love.
    I will see you sometime this summer, but until then- know you are in my thoughts and prayers do very often <3 hugs <3

  24. Blue Ridge willow bends
    but won't break in these storms.
    A resilient heart.

  25. No choice at all, my friend. You put it too well. Now the job is to let time tell you how true it all is. We fill our baskets with memories harvested from seeds of hope and dreams. On and on and on.
    Will Trout survive his blindness? What will he teach you this year? Oh, A. Life can be too interesting some times. Much love, Alicia

  26. K9,
    Well, like all the others, I grieve for you. I applaud your choice of joy following grief. I applaud your choice to love unconditionally and if that in time causes grief then I applaud your courage to love onward. I applaud your painting of love and respect for Dovey. I applaud your ability to face the reality of Trout's glaucoma and to make a plan to balance her life, not sacrifice her life. I applaud V for journeying with you and I applaud all your blogger community for reaching out to you with such generosity of self. I applaud you for recognizing your blessings within your grief and I applaud you for standing up in the tornadoes of life. I applaud you for being the awesome person you are.

  27. Dang! Just like Georgia weather, isn't it?
    When it rains, it pours.

    I'm really sorry for ya, gal.
    Your whole danged family is changing right in front of your eyes.
    What Sun light will break through this black night to bring you back a fine Dawn?
    I pray a fine bright Sun, and rainbows, too, just for you.

  28. Oh I'm sorry.
    It must be tough for you, but it sounds like you're also trying to feel like going on, which is all you can ask of yourself.

  29. Thank you so much my dearest girl for the sweet comment you left at my blog, I have left a reply for you...I will always be your friend. ♡

  30. Thanks for stopping by me blog. Yours is a real treat. So beautifully written. I have chickens as well, and am all too familiar with the pain of losing my feathered it to hawks, dogs, possums...

    I hope the pain of your loss eases soon.

  31. So sorry...and so sorry again.

    If a person could die and come back as one of your animals, I don't think that would be such a bad fate.

  32. dani: you are just TOO good. thank you. i hope you never do have to get rid of her -why would you? her loud egg songs?

    hey bird: aint this some sh*t? i cant believe my little hen is gone. she was a big personality and the house is different without her. at least Trouts eyes seem to look better after 10 days with the drops. thanks for stopping by

    mayden: oh you are so dear to me. thanks for the newsy comment and the comforting words. your reminders are all around too -i have to say i so treasure the photo you took of Trout. i wish youd come over this summer and hang out. i will hike us up to jacks river falls.

    we can watch the news in horror and i will serenade you with minnie rippertons lalla la lala alalala ahhhhhhhhhhhhh


    i know this has been a very odd and challenging year for you as well. im glad you know i am with you every step of the way. much love.

  33. haiku cop: thank you friend. your haiku i hope is true no matter what happens. i thought about you - or i was thinking about all those polo ponies that died. what horror that mustve been -knowing you gave a bad vaccine and killed them all. so hard.

    alicia: you wrote that beautifully. thank you sweet friend. i am ready to learn whatever i am spossed to learn with Trouts eye situation. first i thought - theres no way! now ive been thinking of all the ways. and, its made me very very present in the now. we had a great walk this morning. i kept expecting to see Dovey appear. but, she never does.

    fishy: my goodness you will have me all weepy. you really are too kind, i wish i was always all the things you said but the night Dovey didnt come home i was catatonic. seriously. hours went by and i did nothing. i really need to accomplish something tangible this summer or this bad spring will stretch into a bad year. thanks so much sweet fishy. xo

    boney: it is just head shaking incredulity. i just cant stand it. i am taking the loss of Dovey hard. i really really loved that little bantam. her little silhouette in the window -i miss it are so sweet to wish for me some sunlight buddy i need it and bad. everyday we get much needed rain but now i am ready for light and lots of it. thanks so much for being here.

    jay: welcome to chickory. usually it isnt a wake like this. but thank you for being here today. i hope you will visit again sometime.

    dianne: i kept the card you sent its on my desk at the studio. it reminds me that all the way across the world i have a good friend with a heart of gold and the eye and hand of an artist.xo

    chicken lips: well you can make more chickens too! im glad you came by. it hurst so bad i lost this hen. she was the coolest damn bird. thanks so much and good luck at montrose art show.

    gnome: i miss your page. im glad you came by today -and thanks for the vote of confidence. im feeling like a slack mother hen obviously. but, i will do better by the new children. they probably wont get much unsupervised free time as red and dovey did. xo

  34. K9,
    NONE of us can be all those things all of the time.
    It is the will to stand when you want to fall that is a measure of character.

  35. Sigh....I thought there might be a Spirit of Dovey for MM....reckon thas' too hard on the heart.

  36. fishy: thats a good one. willing to stand. what a great indian name:

    chickory willing to stand

    thanks fish.

    aunty: well, i started a painting. not of Dovey but a tiny crow with diamonds in the sky. Crow is a spirit guide. he leads you to a new reality with new eyes. a crow feather in the field is a lucky discovery. anyway, i hope to post the shrines today.

    This house is not the same without our Dovey. she was HUGE in our lives. i knew that but i didnt really know it until now. *sniff*

  37. I am so so so sorry for you.... things are always darkest before the dawn. I hate that your dog has eye trouble. I love my dog and I am so feeling your pain with this and the hen.. the last time I checked in was when the chicken red had been lost to you and now this when I see your blog. Its almost more than a person should have to bear but you will because your last thing was the uplift part about enjoying the little light and dark as it comes, as we all must do. But for you this is now and the sun will shine warm on you and your two new chicks. I am sending all the love I have for you today. Hoping the warmth of sun will be there for you and Trout and the seedlings.
    take heart/ you are strong.

  38. I am so sorry. I understand the feeling of loss so well, it is amazing how creatures can get into our hearts so deep. Blessings and peace be with you.

  39. Can I tell you how much I love that last photo of Dovey, with the little fern curls and her fierce explorer intentions. Chicken on a Mission.

  40. Rock On,
    Cickory Willing2stand !

  41. Er.... long day, tired eyes, small type,

    That would be


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