The Mainz Market Hen: Remembering My Days in the Pen
Dr. Who needs a TARDIS to time travel. I only need a hen and produce stand to take me back in time…
In the summer my purple stained palms tightly clinched a bucket handle. My aunt and uncle had a produce farm and paid one dollar for each gallon container filled with blueberries. The Louisiana humidity, long hours and fear of snakes didn’t overpower my yearning to earn a dollar. That was all I needed to head into Murphy’s Five & Dime and fill my pockets with sweets: Chocolate Long Boys, Sugar Babies and Razzles. As if the cash and unlimited supplies of fresh blueberries weren’t enough, my aunt and uncle would reward us post-picking with banana, vanilla or chocolate Borden ice cream pops. Really, it was a win win.
But there was another activity keeping me entertained outdoors at my aunt’s, hanging out with chickens. I’d march into their caged pen in search of warm eggs, but I’d end up staying because I liked their company. I thought they were funny; jutting their heads in a back and forth motion as their dainty clawed feet pranced across the dirt. In an attempt to rile them out of their mindless wandering, my bare feet would chase them till they’d cluck and flap their wings wildly. Their feathers were beautiful; some orange, some yellow, some white and a few speckled (the loose ones became my quill). Their beaks tickled my palm as I’d feed them dried corn. My time with the chickens was always a learning experience, for them not me. I pretended to be their teacher. Feeling cocky because I’d just aced kindergarten. I knew things. They were a captive audience. I loved them, and because they couldn’t speak and never flew over the fence I assumed the feeling was mutual.
One day I heard a choir of them cackling like mad. As I looked out my aunt’s kitchen window I saw my uncle’s hands wrapped around the neck of one of my feathered friends. He was forcefully swinging it until its body went limp. I didn’t like the silence of the chickens that followed. In that moment I made the connection to all the delicious Sunday meals involving poultry. I didn’t stop eating chicken, but my visits to the hen house came to an abrupt halt.
The Mainz Market hen who made me recall the past had a luxurious coat of feathers, erect posture and a look of pure arrogance. Possibly an ancestor of one of my pupils? Regardless, it was nice recalling my days in the pen. Days when I ruled the roost.
If you’re interested in learning more about Mainz and their Market, click HERE.