Monday, June 28, 2004

Murder most fowl

“Don’t worry about getting the drugs,” my dad says when he calls. “I’ve chopped his head off.”
My mother wanted to euthanise one of her roosters. They have four roosters too many; chicken sexing is an imperfect science. For the most part the roosters get on well and there’s certainly enough chicks to go around. But Spotty, the fifth rooster, was getting aggressive, even trying to attack my mother, so he had to go.
First she tried feeding him raisins soaked in vodka—an idea I think she borrowed from a Roald Dahl story—but it just made him randier. So the other day she asked me to ask a friend who is a vet nurse if there wasn’t something we could give him to knock him out before the axe came down. I ask my dad how my mother is, knowing she probably went off to the forest to have a good cry, she’s so attached to her animals. He says she’s sad, but doing OK.
“Did he run around without his head?” I ask.
"Well, he would’ve, but your mother held onto his body til he stopped struggling."
"Did it take long?"
"Oh, a couple of minutes."
So I gather they’ll be having a lovely roast later on, after my mother can bring herself to pluck him. Mmm….One of the best things about having moved up here is having been able to enjoy my mother’s sublime cooking again. As I’ve mentioned, she brings around a cake every Sunday, and they also bring other meals; a thermos of goulash, that kind of thing. And at their place every Thursday, I get to feast on all my childhood favorites. Last week, she made reibekuchen, which are a bizarre kind of fried potato cake that you sprinkle with vanilla sugar and drown in sour cherries. A bit of an acquired taste, possibly.
As we sat at the table and I stuffed my face with about ten of these cakes, I told my parents what I’m reading at the moment: fellow blogger Jozef Imrich’s amazing life story Cold River (yes Jozef, I’m ashamed to admit that despite being completely fascinated by the book, I haven't finished reading it yet--I’m a terribly slow reader these days; blame the demands of single parenting), and the short stories of Flannery O’Connor.
I tell my parents I am depressed because the writing is so good, it makes me think I’ve been deluding myself all along, because the truth is, I could never write that well.
My mother says, “Well, I always thought what you wrote at university was very good.”
“You mean, like essays and stuff?” I say.
“So like, non-fiction?”
“So maybe you should stick to that,” she says sweetly.
Maybe she's right.

elsewhere: A tale of six chickens.