Winslow's Tea Stories ARCHIVE EDITION
This Tea Story is dedicated to Chickahominy, who passed away late last year.
Some chickens are real individuals. The most notable chicken Tasha ever knew was Chickahominy. His mother was a bearded Belgium bantam that started her clutch of eggs early in spring, and failed to hatch any save one, at which point she abandoned the effort. Rescued by Tasha from the cold, and thawed atop the double boiler on the woodstove, Chickahominy soon demonstrated his penchant for woodstoves, tea, gardening, scrambled eggs, traveling and people, especially Tasha.
Chickahominy often accompanied Tasha on her frequent excursions in the spring to plant nurseries, though he did squawk at tractor trailer trucks, especially those not pulling a trailer. They reminded Tasha of a 'rooster that had lost its tail feathers during the molt.' When Tasha was out gardening, Chickahominy invariably accompanied her. He liked to scratch around for worms and take dust baths, but at the sight of a hawk would rush under Tasha’s skirts. In fact at the sight of a butterfly he would utter the danger call chickens make, but did stand his ground on such occasions and even scratch extra hard at the dirt to show he was not really concerned.
At tea time, Chickahominy balanced on the edge of the porch and kept an eye on things. Occasionally he might request a cracker, but was always content with just one, and after eating would perch on Tasha’s knee, fluff his feathers and settle down with the ineffable contentment only chickens can possess. He would even utter a few quiet notes, shut his eyes and take a nap.
When Chickahominy was very little, Tasha would put a small towel under him and tuck him into her dress, just above the waistline where it is tied. On one such occasion Tasha went grocery shopping, and at the checkout counter the clerk paused, looked around and said: “Do I hear a chicken?” Without a moments hesitation Tasha explained her hearing aid occasionally made such sounds, though it might be mentioned she never did wear one.
During the winter Chickahominy lived indoors, for his traumatic hatching and subsequent abandonment by his natural mother predisposed him to sensitivity to cold. He lived in the loom room in an airy coop, and flourished on a diet of green peas, the occasional scrambled egg, cracked corn and Breton Original crackers. There was some friction between Chickahominy, the corgi Megan, and Lazarina, a rock dove Tasha rescued in circumstances similar to Chickahominy’s. The difficulty with Megan began shortly after she was picked up from Boston following her transatlantic flight from England. Chickahominy greeted Megan by pecking her on the bottom, and she never forgave him. Lazarina, a good flyer, had a fondness for Breton crackers as well, and would sometimes alight beside Chickahominy when he was enjoying one. This was not to his approval, and he would flap his wings at her and suggest she move on. On such occasions Tasha would say it is not a peaceable kingdom.
Chickahominy was afflicted with a proclivity towards one thing in particular: Shoes, especially when on someone’s feet. Like an 18th century gentleman, he can’t resist a well turned ankle, Tasha would remark from the kitchen when a visitor was greeted by a flapping of wings and a beak to the foot. After Tasha passed away in June 2008, Chickahominy went to live with Amy and Winslow, where he spent considerable time in the summer cruising around the gardens with the bantam hen Annadama, and later her brood of fluffy chicks. He did miss Tasha, however, and occasionally headed through the woods to her house around four in the afternoon. Perhaps he hoped to find her on the front porch having tea. Chickahominy passed away last November. He was fourteen years old.
-Photos and story by Tasha's grandson, Winslow Tudor.