Think of all the metaphors we have for chickens: “It’s chicken feed,” “He’s a chicken,” “Running around like a chicken with its head cut off,” “cocky,” or “strutting like a banty rooster.” This last one came from a Missouri grandma who raised chickens in the suburbs of San Francisco until the neighbors complained about the rooster’s early morning wake-up call.
I never expected to see chickens in Kauai, but there they were, pecking through the dead leaves of a tropical jungle and strutting on Tunnel Beach. If they didn’t have such an aura of “chicken-ness” about them–the bead-black eyes, the pea brain processing only one thought (Eat!)–I’m sure bird watchers would marvel at the auburn birds.
But chickens in Kauai aren’t rare. A German visitor remarked, “If I called my friends at home and held my cell phone up to the sound of that rooster, they’d think I was in a barnyard.” So true. But how had chickens taken over Tunnel Beach? Why did we see chicks in the Wal-Mart parking lot? Surely, Mom wasn’t shopping for a deal.
The locals say these chickens came with the original Polynesian settlers. Others say cock-fighters imported them. A third tale cites Hurricane Iniki as the cause, claiming the storm freed the captives of a chicken farm. Even the local humane society doesn’t bother to round them up, nor do they have a population count.
As to the perennial question, “Why did the chicken cross the road?”
We saw one strutting casually across the highway. My son rolled down his window and shouted, “Why did you do it?”
The chicken had no answer. It reached the other side and resumed its pecking. One day it will show up in a story.
What moments of family lore have made it into the stories you tell again and again at the dinner table? When you look back on family vacations, do you recall bits of conversation and details that might make it into a story? Stop right now and jot those down in your writing notebook.