Charlie didn’t fly back to her tree last evening for the first time since February. I know I’ll never see her again. But I know she is going to be all right.
She’s been acting strangely and now I realize why.
Since she became ”Guinea non grata” in the neighborhood, you’d think she would stay close to home instead of flying all over and doing whatever she does when she leaves the safety of our fenced yard and her big tree.
But for the past week we’ve seen her only during the late evenings when she came back to spend the night in her tree. Gray skies, rainy days, and high winds have sent humans and furry pets scurrying inside. On those days Charlie rules the world.
Then yesterday as I was raking away some dead grass, my rake hit something hard, which turned out to be not so hard. It was an egg that broke under the rake. A chicken egg. A Guinea hen egg. There is only one possible way an egg could have gotten into the yard.
And then I knew. Charlie has become a woman.
I think she must have some instinct telling her that it was time to stop being a dog and to find her own flock and raise little Charlies. Birds must have some kind of instinct to find other birds of a feather to flock together with. Wayward ducks and swans always find their way to the lakes in town.
We think we have figured out where she came from and where she has gone.
We used to live on the northeast corner of town, but to the north, developments of half million dollar houses have started springing up like toadstools, all looking alike, all crammed together, huge overblown houses with tiny manicured yards and no trees. We don’t know who lives there; they’re mostly commuters who are not part of the town unless they need a service (like trying to get the police to bust a curry barbecue in a garage). The ugly houses have replaced old farms where Guinea hens and roosters lived.
But to the east the planners have committed to maintaining a wide green zone: family farms, row crops, vineyards, open fields, horse pastures, orchards, and trees, lots of big trees. There’s a place for Charlie there. I know she’ll find her way.
I sat outside for a long time last night. I cried for Charlie. I cried for all the free spirits that civilization has displaced even though it has to happen. I cried for everything we’ve lost by advancing our frontiers, even though that has to happen.
Charlie is a smart bird with the instincts to survive. She needs to be a Guinea hen though, not a dog.
I’m sure life won’t be as much fun for her though.
Our lives won’t be as much fun either.