Sunday, November 29, 2015

I've decided birdfeeding is like raising chickens, only

... only minus the trouble of health care (for the chickens), coop-building, and so forth. Unhappily, I have yet to attract anything more exotic than a cardinal and a black-capped chickadee to my patio. "Frequent visitor to winter feeders," the birdbooks say. In other words, big whoop. Besides, that is neither of those, above. That's another sparrow. One of many. 

Below is my Michigan chicken, whom I met on a walk around Lake Osterhaut and whom I have decided to virtually adopt. His name is going to be either the Kaiser, after my late grandfather's legendary backyard-Chicago rooster (we're talking circa 1930 -- chickens must run in the blood), or Champers. "Champers" is wine-professional slang for champagne. The word simply cries out to be a pet name. Since two cats are enough for the moment, and dogs are out of the question and indoor birds are a smelly mess, and small rodents have never appealed to me, Champers the virtual chicken it is. Isn't he handsome?

A great many chickens are very handsome. They are called "exotic," and are said to be, as a group -- Gallus gallus, even the Latin of their name is dignified -- the closest living relative to Tyrannosaurus rex. Sometimes I think scientists get excited and make things up, in fact we know for a fact they get excited and make things up, but anyway this idea is amusing and harmless.

If I want to give you a gallery of more virtual chickens, bearing all the great pet-names-from-the-wine-industry that I have not had a chance to use for real animals yet, Bourboulenc and Clairette and such, then I will have to hunt up Google Images or Pinterest and procure them like everyone else. I'm happy to credit any blog or site for photos, but does the procuring still create a "stolen bandwidth" problem? Or has technology solved all that? The only site I have ever known to trace me into the weeds and actually dismantle an image that I copied and credited was Project Gutenberg -- the very site that started out all about free access to out-of-copyright books. Ironic, no?

Below, -- oh, let's call them Bourboulenc and Clairette. From the blog Chicken Street.

Next: gorgeous, French; photo by Claudie Niery. We want to use the name "Picpoule," but that seems effeminate for this surely masculine creature. He is, I believe, le coq of France, so we will call him something proud and manly, Crusaderish even. Richard.

This next one seems to be pausing, on a beautiful spring day, on her walk from the coop to the library. We'll call her Scholastica. From the blog The Chicken Chick.

Back to reality. Winter, and the courtyard cardinal. Probably named Larry.

By the way, speaking of Crusades, I want you to read an excellent summary of them here, at a site callled ARMA, the Association for Renaissance Martial Arts. In "The Real History of the Crusades" Professor Thomas F. Madden argues that mature scholarship is beginning to acknowledge these wars were a near-desperate, centuries-long European Christian response to cascading Muslim jihad -- something we are beginning to be reacquainted with -- and that they were of course, on the battlefield, eventual failures. But he says: with the Renaissance and after,    
"The Muslim threat was neutralized economically. As Europe grew in wealth and power, the once awesome and sophisticated Turks [Islam's most important representatives then] began to seem backward and pathetic—no longer worth a Crusade. The 'Sick Man of Europe' limped along until the 20th century."
After which, I suppose, the Sick Man's co-religionists found oil under their sands, and then learned it gave them the money they needed to buy weapons and really resume jihad. And, broadly speaking, here we are. 

At any rate, I find it a piece of great hope to reflect that it may just be wealth, the peaceful arts, leisure, consumption, even frivolity -- exotic chicken raising, for heaven's sake -- that have served to turn back another, endlessly predatory civilization whose main attributes turn out to be impoverishment and suffering. (No wonder the left loves Islam. Nothing else impoverishes and equalizes like it, except their own Marx perhaps.) This is not to say battles and victory don't matter, of course they do. But how remarkable it will be if the very things our pundits bewail, in best end-of-civilization, Chicken Little style, things like yoots absorbed in video games or the activity that is Miley Cyrus, turn out to be powerful weapons themselves. Of course we want our yoots to know Shakespeare and Beethoven, too, which is a struggle and ideally should not be. I'd like Miley Cyrus to know Beethoven -- now there would be a clash of worlds. 

But the sheikhs and "extremists" have long feared our embarrassing, frivolous weapons. I'm glad. 


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