I look out my office window. Humphrey and two of the spice girls have, as it were, flown the coop. They’re prancing around under the bird feeder with flagrant disregard for the grave reality that they are AWOL.

Five of the hens in our flock I have named “the spice girls.” They are Pepper, Clove, Cinnamon, Ginger and All, named for their place on the color palette. Two of the five are inclined to make an occasional jailbreak, usually incited by Earhart, the aviatrix of the flock.

Today, I blame Humphrey for leading the insurrection. He is a stately, handsome, belligerent fellow, with a determined look, evidence of the deadly sin of pride. With regard to pride, a peacock has nothing on him. The other morning he sounded off at 3:15AM. I don’t know what came over him. When, in passing conversation, we mentioned it to our son-in-law (the “landlord” 😉) about it, he offered to slaughter the miscreant to preserve our rest. As bothersome as a 3:15AM alarm is, I don’t think I want to dispatch Humphrey to the great crock-pot in the sky just yet. He is, after all, a chicken, complete with limited intellectual capacity. I trust that his early morning reveille will not be a regular thing. For the most part he respects certain boundaries relative to the time of day. He’s only done the very early announcement once. The rest of the time he usually waits until after 5:00 which is our usual time to rise anyway.

I know if I go out there to try to bring them all to confinement again they will flap around, running for their lives. And I will weary myself trying to coax them back into line. I’ve done this numerous times and it occurs to me that stumbling about waving my arms probably puts me on the same level as they– leaping and lunging, flapping and stumbling– as I try to curtail their freedom, which they are inclined to guard jealously.

To complicate matters this morning, Mr. and Mrs. Puddles, our resident ducks, are also out for their morning walk.

I believe I will attempt to ignore the poultry and return to my morning prayer time. I am far too easily distracted…

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