We all mourned the passing of Mattie.
My boss had a chicken called Mattie. A character in every sense, she developed a problem which couldn’t be sorted out, and became unbalanced ( physically: her self image remained intact until the last) and one day decided enough was enough and quit.
My boss did not tell us when Mattie died. But she did announce, last week, that she was about to collect a total of five new chickens to occupy the coop in the garden.
Two of them were from a traditional source; but three came from a battery farm. Rescue chickens, bald with clipped wings and the air of pasty orphans dazed from a rather nightmare existence.
When she said they were coming I cheered. For no chicken could want for a better home than the leafy surrey garden of this vegetarian and confirmed animal lover. I knew the chickens were destined for a surfeit of joy, scooped as they had been from Fowl Hades to land in Chicken Elysium.
I would say they have lived with her less than a week: one sunlit weekend caressed by warm English winds and a few rain-drenched weekdays. None of us knew whether the scrawny half-lives would lay. It was the talk of the Portacabin where we ply our heritage trade. We waited, expectant.
And today, the answer arrived in not one, but two egg boxes.
My boss gives us eggs: she looks after us. And roundabout 9am the box of six eggs was placed carefully on my desk and the Portacabin full of staff began to discuss them. Proudly, my boss pointed out who had laid which egg.
One egg stood out by a mile. It was absolutely huge: it dwarfed every other egg. I asked after its creator and learned that this huge egg came from one of her little scrawny orphans, not from the well adjusted chickens who had led a healthy existence.
What better way to thank the Universe? What greater celebration of the transition from a tiny corset-cage far from the sunlight, crushed against other desperate little souls, to a sunlit Surrey garden in midsummer, with rose-scent and lavender on the warm wind?
The egg sits in my egg box this evening, and though I shall celebrate it along with the chicken which made it eventually, I wanted just a few hours to marvel at the power of every being in this great cosmos of ours to say Thank You.
It is endlessly, joyfully humbling.