On Tuesday, I was on my way home on Haywood Road, just over the Clingman Ave Bridge (I could have been on Clingman and not on Haywood! No one knows exactly where the magical transition line is between Clingman and Haywood) and on my right I espied a chicken. That, I thought to myself, is a chicken. A white chicken. So, ever intrepid, I turned on to Riverview Drive, my road, parked on the side, hoping that the neighbors wouldn’t shoot me (if I lived at that intersection I would probably shoot people regularly) and got out of the car. I walked over to the sidewalk on my side of Haywood and stood there looking at the chicken while traffic whooshed between us.
The chicken was perfectly happy. It was digging up the deep leaf mulch and just generally doing that I used to be a dinosaur chicken thing where it moves all stuttery like an extra in Jurassic Park. I took a few halfhearted pictures with the phone, which is an awesome camera for closeup but absolute shit at more than a few feet away and wondered what to do. Maybe it is a wild chicken? I thought. Maybe it lives up the hill and is just slightly stretching the boundaries of what free range really is? Maybe it is from Chicken Run and perfectly capable of making its own chickeny decisions here?
Once, long ago, when there was still a stockyard where New Belgium will soon be, I found a wild cow out in the wild and illegal part of the French Broad River Park. I was hiking up in under where the stilt houses were not, yet, with my dearly departed dog Toby when we came face to face with a cow. The cow stared at us and we stared at the cow and thank the gods everyone was a little too bemused to do anything, even bark or moo. The cow went one way and we went another and the thought of that cow, living large on the land, has made me happy ever since. I hope it still lives there and scares the people in the stilt houses late at night with the occasional mournful moo. But probably not. However! Chicken!
I thought about crossing the road to get to the chicken and then . . . and then. . . catch it? Yeah, my chicken catching record is extremely spotty at best. I have tried it one time before and mostly we ran around in circles, the chickens and me, and nobody really got caught per se but eventually I managed to sort of herd them into their coop. This was my friends’ Jen & Kyle’s coop which I was briefly watching while they were away. I was wearing heels and a short skirt and to this day I wish the whole thing had been filmed, because it would have a billion views on Youtube by now and I would be rich. Humiliated, but rich.
The traffic kept on whooshing by. There was a lot of traffic and nobody was looking at the chicken, not even the healthy athletic bikers who gave me a somewhat dubious thumbs up for no apparent reason. I thought, well, I could probably manage to cross the street without getting killed and then I will chase the chicken – right out into traffic and we will both get killed along with the driver and a few other people in other cars and all in all this is a bad scenario. Or if by some miracle I do catch it then I . . I . . uh. Bring it home? In the car? To the dogs who would not, all children’s book lessons aside, make it into a special friend. I called my chicken owning friend Jen but alas, she was not answering, so I left a somewhat incoherent message on her voicemail and continued to stand there, across the road from the chicken, neither of us crossing.
The chicken, at this point, became telepathically aware of the the threat – me – and moved further away from the road and up the hill a bit. Fuck it, I thought, good luck, chicken, long may you roam. So I got back in my car and came home and proceeded to tweet the entire incident. Which would have been the end of it except that in a perfectly Asheville twist, about an hour later (my initial tweet got picked up and retweeted a bit around town in a goodhearted attempt to Save a Chicken Through Social Media) I got an urgent message from a very nice guy. “Any update on the chicken?” he said, “Did you save it?”
Uh. “No,” I said, “Alas,” or words to that effect.
“Well at least you tried,” he said comfortingly and I felt guilty and so in the annals of honesty and full disclosure this blog is known for I have to admit: I didn’t really try to save the chicken. I am not so intrepid. I just looked at the chicken and the chicken did not, really, even look back at me. I did not cross the road for any reason, because I am chicken. Of chickens.
I did, however, take a picture! And then in a completely unrelated incident I got a new book on photoshop special effects and the result you see here is this totally incredible rendering of one of those very bad photos which has now obviously been improved and turned into ART.
OK, OK, I just got the book. I’m still learning.