x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

The Chicken Chronicles: Search for meaning among feathery friends

Alice Walker, who brought us The Color Purple, has recently been blogging about life with poultry. Her latest book is a rich and fascinating collection of musings on the meaning of life.

Who would have thought the life cycle of chickens could provide such a rich and fascinating vein of material for Alice Walker's musings and reflections on the meaning of life?

Collated from a series of posts on her blog, Walker describes in The Chicken Chronicles how she installed a chicken house on her homestead in northern California and spent hours every day watching their development.

With the wonderment of a child and in enchanting, poetic prose, she details their quirks and characteristics, their ability to bond with each other. She imagines the secret life they lead when she leaves their nest.

The chickens, with names like Agnes of God and Hortensia, take on personality traits akin to small children, while Walker casts herself in the role of "Mommy", talking to them and rejoicing with them when they lay eggs, reprimanding the domineering ones when they establish a pecking order and mourning the dead when they are attacked by predators. She even draws parallels between one fowlicide and the death of Michael Jackson.

Her obsession with her birds, while on a par with that exhibited by a certain type of older woman towards cats, is nevertheless endearing, her portrayal of their characters captivating. KFC will never taste the same again.