Little Red Hen, why have I not written of your demise? It’s been 2 weeks today the illustrious Little Red Hen of facebook fame, whose quirky face sold more cards than any of my other 60+ designs, was found, by me, dead in the red chicken house she shared with Studdily, her attentive and chivalrous rooster. There was little time to reflect on her death. A few hours later I was told I needed a biopsy to rule out cancer as a cause of a condition of great delicacy on my body. That little drama over, in my favor, I have let my breath out.
As I watch Studdily wander aimlessly around, without purpose to his life, I too miss the cocky little hen who defied the odds to live as long as she did. Perhaps because I wrote about her life as she lived it, it seems there is little left to write. She’s gone, story over. She was indeed remarkable. Curious, smart, willing to be picked up, held and petted, and with a propensity for creating eggs too large for her diminutive body to expel, she lived life on the edge, at times full of hyper-energy, at times standing around in a daze. This is not unlike myself. She followed me around, stood on the shovel when I dug in the garden, bit my hand if my weeding didn’t produce enough worms to appease her appetite, walked into the house to look around for whatever a chicken might be looking for, and ran up vet bills that rivaled our last dog’s medical expenses.
There were times I off-the-cuff referred to her as my familiar, so in the spirit of the season I thought I would explore this remark.
According to Wikipedia a familiar is a supernatural entity believed to assist witches and cunning folk in their practice of magic. I’ve never thought of myself as a witch, though I have dressed as one many a Halloween, but I’d like to think I am occasionally cunning, as in ingenious. This is good. Here’s what Wikipedia has to say…….
“When they served witches, they were often thought to be malevolent, while when working for cunning-folk they were often thought of as benevolent (although there was some ambiguity in both cases). The former were often categorized as demons, while the latter were more commonly thought of and described as fairies. The main purpose of familiars is to serve the witch or young witch, providing protection for him/her as they come into their new powers.”
Well now this gets interesting. First, we were told many times Little Red Hen could not live long. As recently as 5 months ago we were encouraged to ‘put her to sleep’ as she had no more than a few more hours, maybe a day to live. She had a broken egg in her which couldn’t be removed and was causing toxins in her system. I repeat, that was five months ago. I think defying death might put Little Red Hen in the category of “supernatural entity”, just a suggestion…….
As for the fairy part. She was certainly elfin in size and impish in personality. The definition of fairies
is quite broad, but can include wings, which she had, and the ability to appear and disappear, which she did quite frequently. I vote yes on the fairy identity.
On to the benevolent pursuits. Certainly the pleasure a child, my aging mom, or anyone received stroking her small warm body of silky feathers, or the smiles her facial expressions brought to the dozens, maybe hundreds, of folks who bought my cards showing her countenance might be thought of as benevolent pursuits. We certainly teamed up in these pursuits. In a crazy world, these little acts from a little being make a difference.
Now for the helping me to come into my new powers part. Have I come into these powers, or was I a helpless cause and, giving up, she decided not to stick around through another winter? I will continue to ponder this aspect of her role as a familiar. Perhaps she will continue to assist from another realm……..
For now, there is one lonely, aging, but healthy and handsome rooster with a lovely red house looking for a small mate of similar age. And Little Red Hen’s facebook page has been taken over by Gray Duck
, to appease non-feathered friends. I doubt Gray Duck will be as witty. She is not, after all, a familiar. Though there may be a bit of magic in her.