this day

Alenka Co

Stonebow, Australia

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Artist's Description

Early morning here in Penguin. The sun is just now streaming across the sea and in through the window where I sit, sorting through photos and writings. Across the creek the native hen couple are eating the dewy grassy tips and seeds. Any minute now they’ll come running across the little bridge and in through the garden gate for their breakfast of rolled oats, one of them with a hobble-gait. I don’t know what happened to her leg a couple of months ago.

I worry about her. Usually they can run so fast but now, should a playful dog or cat or child give chase ….

It seems that every joyful thing, every time, soon is followed by a sad thing. A joyful thing yesterday, when we returned from shopping in the late afternoon and there was a loud ecking from the pair of them at the door. They’d come up around the house to the kitchen door, wanting to know where was their dinner. As I said, a joyful thing, to delight in and remember when the inevitable sad thing happens.

Now, this morning, I open my RB portfolio to where I’m up to in my sorting and come across this photo and writing from three years ago, when we were living in the forest hills of Stonebow and a native hen couple and their chicks became our companions. I said at the time that “I’ll remember this day” and here it is, waiting for me three years later to do just that.

These are the photos, and the writing, from Stonebow, three years ago:

The native hen chicks are eleven days old today.

Every day is a perfect day for them, with parents that care for them, with whom they will stay for almost a year until they go off to find a mate and have their own chicks. They live in a beautiful forest with a large pond where they nested and hatched and where each evening they return for the night after a day on the slope in front of the house. They paddle and bathe, they eat and explore, bask in the sunshine and when they get tired, mum pops down and they nestle into her feathers while dad stands guard.

Their lives are good, every day is a good day. If, like last year, some don’t make it, are taken by the eagle or other predator, I’ll remember this day, remember that they had eleven glorious days of life and even if that’s all they’ll have, their lives were a joy worth living.

Large hailstones fell yesterday. We were away when the storm hit, didn’t see what happened, but it must have been scary. The chicks didn’t come down from the big pond for their supper last night, nor for breakfast this morning, even though it was their four week birthday. We had to take rolled oats to the big pond for them, breakfast and afternoon tea. In the late afternoon, some excited ‘ecking’ by the parent birds announced they were coming down the slope for supper. I made as special effort to get photos of them …… for a while there I thought we’d lost them to the hailstones.

Six chicks and the two parents ….. this year the parents brought the chicks down from the pond to the house within a couple of days of hatching and they seem more accepting of us as part of the place. At first I would crouch down low and keep very still but now we can’t step outside without them running to us and following us around. Such a sweet, funny sight, the way they come running.

photos by Ron, on the slope outside the house.
Stonebow, Tasmania, Australia

Artwork Comments

  • Alenka Co
  • Ann  Warrenton
  • Alenka Co
  • JRGarland
  • Alenka Co
  • Ralph Goldsmith
  • Alenka Co
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