Thursday, February 03, 2011

Missing city chicken object of surprising fondness

Elizabeth Giddens writes for The New York Times about one of her chickens, Gertrude, stolen from her Bedford-Stuyvesant coop-home. "The chickens of New York City, for the most part, live fairly sheltered lives, securely tucked into private backyards and padlocked community gardens. Our chickens, by contrast, are public figures." Many of these city chickens belong to "the nostalgic migrants from the Caribbean and rural South, there’s an awful lot of chicken love in Bed-Stuy these days." (Times photo by Damon Winter)

Giddens writes, "It’s nearly impossible to feel melancholy in the company of chickens. They are a balm for the weary urban soul. The spirit of the chicken regularly infects the sidewalk ... People break out in chicken dances. They cluck. They coo. They cock-a-doodle-doo. (One toddler ventured a tentative 'oink, oink' before her mother gently corrected her.)"

Last summer, Gertrude, a Rhode Island Red and Giddens' prize layer, was stolen. "We posted a big sign on the gate, letting people know what had happened, and pleading for her return, no questions asked." The reaction in the neighborhood was immediate and dramatic. "People were devastated. A man with a neck tattoo shook his head and tut-tutted, 'What kind of person would do something like this?' ... Such dramatic emotional outpourings for a lost chicken seemed frankly disproportionate ... since your average American consumes more than 80 pounds of poultry a year, the odds were good that most of the mourners had eaten a chicken in the last few days, if not hours."

For Gertrude's fate, read the whole essay to its happy ending. Think of Gertrude as the latest plucky ambassador to city folk. (Read more)

1 comment:

Kent Flanagan, aka Punster, said...

An enjoyable read, but "plucky ambassador?" Up-pun my word...