Then one summer afternoon I walked towards the woods on my way to pick elderberries. Butterflies flew above the daises, buttercups, and black-eyed susans on both sides of the path. My long dress brushed over the tall grass as I walked through the meadow behind the chicken coop with a peck basket under my arm.
I had just passed the chicken coop when I heard a sound that made me turn around. What I saw made my head prickle from the back of my neck all the way to my forehead. From four separate directions came four bantam roosters all running towards me. They had their heads down and their bodies wiggled back and forth with their wings and feathers puffed out so they looked twice their size and they made their warning guck-guck! Guck-guck! Guck-guck! sounds in their throats. As they came at me I saw their sharp spurs, beaks, and toenails. Hatred glared at me through their beady eyes. I screamed a bloodcurdling scream.
The roosters kept coming.
Mem came running from the house when she heard my scream. She stopped in her tracks right outside the kitchen door, and laughed when she saw my predicament. She nodded her head and said, “Ahh-huhh, ahh-huhh! You deserved this one!” Her large stomach and hefty bosom bounced with each ahh-huhh!
“Helf mich!” (Help me!) I begged. I imagined the roosters’ claws and beaks on my bare legs and feet. I knew that if I tried hitting them with my hands, they would fly at my eyes and peck them.
Mem called for Lizzie to grab a stick and help me out. As soon as the roosters saw her coming they stopped in their tracks and pecked in the dirt and looked at me sideways. Then the biggest one crowed. They all went underneath the chicken coop when Lizzie came closer with her stick.
I had the shakes and my teeth chattered as I walked towards the house. I knew I wouldn’t be chasing roosters anymore. I stayed home and helped Mem can pears instead of picking elderberries that afternoon.
When I think back to the fright those roosters gave me, I realize I learned so much from that experience. Mem was right — I did have that coming to me. This was a natural consequence of me gaining power over the roosters. I learned that it is not only humans who have a desire to seek revenge against cruelty — even creatures with bird-brains have it. It took bird brains to teach me that having power over can shift without warning from one side to the other.
The roosters and I respected one another after that. I left the clothesline props where they belonged and the roosters seemed to know that my lesson had been learned because they left me alone, too.
Next week I plan to post an interview with Ira Wagler, author of Growing up Amish. Ira has kindly offered to provide a copy of his book for a giveaway. So I’ll see you next week…