Monday, August 13, 2012

Plucking Memories

She plopped the fat chicken into the sink. A naked chicken is disturbing. Most of the feathers were gone, but I had the job of removing what was left. The poor old bird had been in the chicken yard yesterday, now today it would be dinner. Now I had to girl handle the naked chicken.

I love my growing up. How many of my friends today watched a headless chicken dance on the clothesline or got to pluck feathers? How many of them know what it is like to have fresh chicken on the table or to taste potpie made with rich chicken broth? Chicken was one of the staples on our table. It was the way of life. I can't imagine my past without it.

In my parents' growing up, chicken was even more important. Feathers were used to stuff feather beds and pillow. Almost every part of the chicken was used. Pieces that weren't fried were cooked up for the broth. The giblets were treasures. Generations grew up depending on those chicken for eggs, feathers and meat.

The best part of chicken dissection was the egg sac. The little transparent eggs waiting in the sac for their hard shells to develop were tasty morsels. Mom cooked them up in the rich broth. Some no bigger than a pencil eraser. Those little pieces of egg yolk persuaded me that egg yolks are healthy no matter what the doctor says.

I wish there was a way to instill in my grandchildren what it was like to be in my mother's kitchen. Many of us still have old pots and pans that Mom used daily. My daughter has Dad's old popcorn pan. The richness of life was in the richness we savored every day. The old rolling pin that rolled out the dough for pies and noodles. The potato masher that got a workout most every day. It all turned into memories for us. Memories that I can only pass on in words. Memories that usually centered around chickens.

I have not plucked a chicken since my childhood. I still crave those little eggs and laugh remembering the chicken on the clothesline. Perhaps those naked chicken bound us together in that kitchen. We spent much time over the old bird. We spent time with Mom. Sometimes I can sense her essence that followed her through each day. It was a bit of soap and water, a dusting of dough and flour.

I will not gather eggs in the old hen house any more. Brenda and I will not sit on the hill beneath the close line. Yet, I still pluck the chicken I get from the store. The skinny, overpriced bird is lacking in so many ways. It seems that the chicken pluckers at the plant have no idea how to clean a bird. It is at those time I wish I was a vegetarian.

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