Tuesday, August 4, 2009

On how Sidewalk Monkey, one year after moving to Santa Rosa, continues to realize she no longer lives in New York

Late last week, I was late for work because I thought there was a skunk hanging out in my driveway. As it turned out--after I skulked fearfully in a wide radius around it for fifteen minutes, called my temp job to report that I would be late because the skunk was blocking my way to my truck which I had to drive to work because my bike had a busted tire, and called Jam Guy to warn him to be careful about the skunk when he came home for lunch--it wasn't actually a skunk, or even in the same Linnaen taxonomic class as a skunk. It was a chicken.

Granted, it was a not any kind of chicken I had ever seen before (and when later that day a friend stopped over and the chicken was still hanging out, our friend exclaimed, "Check out this crazy bird!" as though he'd discovered some exotic avian species). It was, I found by Google-image-searching "black chicken with white mop head," a Polish Bantam hen. It looked like this:

I took some pictures of it--mostly to prove to poor Jam Guy and my vastly amused coworkers that I am not such a crazy city girl that I can't tell a bird from a mammal. But this image, pulled off of the fascinating site backyardchickens.com, is much clearer. I mean, you can kind of see how it looks like a skunk, right? Like a skunk with its little white booty in the air, all ready to spray you with skunkiness?

Anyways. So this is my life now. I used to wake up in New York City, feeling all grouchy because police activity or someone barfing in the gutter had interrupted my sleep, jockey for a spot at the bodega coffee counter, shoulder through rush hour pedestrian traffic, clutch my coffee against the press of bodies in a subway car. Those were my morning battles then. Now I wake up here, grouchy because sunrise-awakened songbirds interrupted my sleep, attempt to get into my pickup truck, and am forestalled by a freaky-deaky chicken with a head that looks like a skunk butt.

Life is good here, and I will take songbirds and chickens and Jam Guy over everything the city offered me. But the curve of my learning about living in a place with such present agricultural roots just stretches longer and longer, and I think I am a long way from the peak of it.