That Thing with Feathers: Hope and Literature in a Time of Upheaval
Where do you turn for reprieve during these cold December days? For Karin Anderson, the answer is found in the far corner of her own backyard. In today’s That Thing With Feathers: Hope & Literature in a Time of Upheaval, Anderson introduces us to four things with feathers—five, if you count the hope.
Hope is the Thing That Clucks
by Karin Anderson
Last spring on a sunny cold day, just before COVID got officially serious, I capitulated to the winsome appeal of fuzzy chicks at the farm store. Probably I shouldn’t have brought my twenty-three-year-old daughter and her girlfriend; I was seeking planter buckets but the young ladies were sucked directly into the baby bird vortex. We drove home with six peeping fluffballs in a box. And a coop kit.
I’d been resisting this for years. I grew up with chickens on my parents’ (much larger) property. I don’t know the breed—plain white with red combs and pink eyes, not one bit personable. Sure, cute for a newly-hatched minute but we kids didn’t name or cuddle them the way we went after, say, orchard kittens. Plus, roosters were involved. And besides, there were creatures everywhere—at our house and everyone else’s. I was fixated on the horses on down the hill.
Because I’ve lived within the same seventy-five-mile radius most of my life, I feel a need to keep past and present partitioned.
It’s mostly good to grow up among domestic animals, but I raised my kids in another world. Because I’ve lived within the same seventy-five-mile radius most of my life, I feel a need to keep past and present partitioned. I think my grown children see my rural Utah childhood through a jaded contemporary lens, but they feel twinges of solastalgic longing too.
They’ve found ways to compensate. They live in a world where dogs and cats share our interior spaces—unimaginable in my mother’s house. My oldest daugh