© H. David Morrow ~ September 23, 2004
We've had an epiphany... or, rather, GW (Geneaholic Wife) had one.
It all started when GW brought home a live chicken. "I'm going to prepare this chicken the same way my g-g-g-g-g-grandmother (Martha) did," she yelled while holding the white-feathered, writhing bird high above her head. The chicken cackled so loudly we had to shout.
"That means," I yelled back, "you'll have to kill it, remove all the feathers and dress it before you can even begin to cook it. Wouldn't it have been easier just to get a frozen bird from Kroger and pop it in the oven?"
The chicken suddenly became quiet as if it grasped what I'd said. Deep inside myself, I smiled because I can't even get our dog to understand what I say! But the chicken seemed to comprehend my words!
"Easy, shmeasy." GW said with a palpable amount of disdain, "Martha didn't have it easy! If I'm ever going to understand what she went through, I have to do what she did."
"I suppose you want me to build a log cabin in the back yard. Is a plain dirt floor OK, or do you want grass inside?"
GW shot me her most effective glare. (The one that says, "Tonight, you sleep in the bathtub.") Then she and the cackling bird stormed off into the kitchen. I turned up the volume on the classical music CD (Beethoven's Ninth) and put on my earphones so I wouldn't hear the chicken's last whimpers.
Moments later, she (GW, not the chicken) appeared in front of me. She looked very pale. I assumed the fowl deed had been accomplished. Suddenly, I heard more cackling.
"What's wrong? Are you OK?" I looked at her hands to assure myself GW hadn't cut off a finger instead of the bird's head. All ten digits were still in place.
"That chicken," she wailed, "said it knew g-g-g-g-g-grandma Martha!"
"I think you should have bought a younger chicken. Martha lived in 1850!" I reminded GW.
"You don't understand. The chicken says it's a direct descendant of Martha's chickens."
"Wait a minute. The chicken TALKED? Have you been drinking the cooking wine?"
GW grabbed my hand and started to pull me into the kitchen. (I almost got throttled by the headphone cord.) The chicken was standing in the sink jerkily moving its head and noisily protesting its future. In words, not cackles!
It stopped moving and fixed me with a stare. "I suppose she got you to hold me while she chops off my head," the chicken shouted at me.
"Wrong, feathered mouthpiece. I came to hear you talk." What's the matter with me?... I'm talking to a live chicken! (The only thing crazier is talking to a dead chicken... or a dead ancestor. I don't usually do either, but GW... now that's another story.)
My wife had been silent through the entire exchange between me and the chicken. She was trying to stare the chicken into submission. "Tell me about Martha's life. Was it hard?" she asked the bird.
"Of course, I only know about this because my ancestors told me," the chicken answered. "Martha lived in a log cabin with dirt floors."
I turned to GW and said, "Aha! So I only have to build the cabin with dirt floors." She glared at me again.
The chicken continued, "She had twelve children that lived. They loved to eat fried chicken cooked over an open fire. Martha made it quite often. But she wouldn't kill and cook my g-g-g-g-g-g-g-g-g-g-g-g-g-g-g-g-grandmother... too good at laying eggs."
"Martha spent most of the summer preparing vegetables and fruits for the winter. She also made clothes for all the kids and quilts for all the beds. She taught my grandmother a lot of survival skills including how not to get cooked. That's how I'm here. They both lived to a very old age."
GW looked directly at me... with a tear in her eye. "I can't kill this chicken. It would be like matricide!"
"Not really," I said. "Chickens are a different species."
"You know what I mean," GW responded. "So you know what you have to do!"
"Why me? I'm a city boy. All I know about chickens I learned from Colonel Sanders." The chicken became visibly upset at my mention of the name of the chicken maven.
Then I brightened up and told GW I was going out for a while. She looked at me suspiciously for just a moment and then said, "Don't forget the Stovetop."
The chicken really enjoyed the Stovetop stuffing... dry. But it would have none of the fried chicken GW made from the Kroger's frozen bird.
Apparently the chicken eats only fresh fowl or maybe the main course was just too nostalgic.