Saturday, March 10, 2012

Swimsuit Weather

It was 27º this morning when I ventured outside to check on the peacock roosting on the top of our barn. That's a sentence most people cannot lay claim to, personally. Here, though, in MY world, stating something like that won't even raise eyebrows.

Peacocks have come in and out of our lives in the ten years we have lived out in the country. I love my peacocks. We've enjoyed Manley Peacock, a large and gorgeous blue guy, Mavis (Manley Peacock's mate), Jon Weiss - another gorgeous guy, and Reuben, my white peacock pictured below with Grad Student Gillian. We've enjoyed a setting nest of peacocks which hatched into ugly babies. All of these birds were great fun and great headaches. Pets, they are not. I do not have an emotional attachment to these creatures. I guess it is something I took up out here in rural Kansas to make this place a bit prettier. Nothing says WOW like a giant peacock balancing on top of the barn in 35 mph wind, his tailfeathers streamlining in the wind. It's like performance art - a live weathervane atop my barn.

Jon Weiss

Some people keep peacocks in pens. I think it is more fun to let them roam around the yard. But peacocks do roam, near and far, and sometimes they meet their demise early in life because of this. Manley Peacock was hit by a passing semi when he ventured over the fenceline. That was sad, but I felt bad for the truck driver, too. "I hit a peacock this afternoon." And it was something, to see the stream of teal feathers and down, all along the highway. Manley Peacock is the only peacock we ever buried (what else can you do with a giant dead peacock, but tuck all his feathers around him and bury him?) Manley Peacock is buried in my cutting garden, under the concord grapes and beside the roses. I make a mental note of this when I am our there gardening, because I sure don't want to dig him up. (And I will admit, I told my kids that if Reuben, our white peacock, ever died, I was going to have him stuffed. Instead, I gave him to our farrier's wife.)

The two pea fowl I have now were gifts. Last summer, when we finished the Horse chapter of our lives, I called our farrier to let him know we would no longer be needing him to stop by every six weeks to work on our horses. A week later he called to say that his wife wanted to give me some baby pea fowl. I won't know for another month or two if they are peacocks or hens, so I am waiting to name these two. And I have kept them in the barn since they arrived, to keep them safe from fox and coyote and bloodhound. The two peacocks are about seven months old now, and are quite large. They have left the confines of the barn on several occasion of late, and that is what happened yesterday. Grad Student Gillian is home for the weekend, and as she sat on the living room floor writing yet another paper for her final semester, she looked up and said, "Oh, the peacocks can fly now?" I was puzzled. What did that mean? "Mom, there's a peacock on the top of the car."

And said peacock moved from the car to the top of the barn, which is where it stayed the entire night. It came down this morning, and I ushered it back into the barn. It seemed happy to reunite with its barnmate, to have some food and to perch under the heat lamp. Because it was 27º when I ventured outside this morning.

Oh, and the title of this entry? Yesterday I went to the university rec center and renewed my membership to the natatorium. (Swimming pool, in everyday lingo.) Swimsuit weather. Even though it was 27º when I ventured out this morning.

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