The distance between our farm and the next town was about eight miles. There was a place by the railroad tracks there where we bought hundred-pound sacks of three-grain and chicken feed. Opening a new sack of either was like opening a can of coffee: it was impossible to inhale enough of the simple-complex aroma. But how long has it been since we had goats and chickens? Let’s see . . . we’ve lived in Oregon for thirty-one years . . . half of my life . . . so we can safely say thirty-two or so. And here I am, still thinking about them, and about how a newly hatched chick immediately starts hunting and pecking, as if the earth were a typewriter, as I suppose it is. That’s the key — everything is not only what it is, it is something else too. It is both, it is everything, simultaneously. If you buy chicks at the store, after you take them home you have to keep them warm. If the chicks are hatched in the yard, their mothers handle that responsibility. We are chicks, we are warm, hear our gentle cheeping and peeping: Oh, Danny Boy, the peeps, the peeps are calling, from hen to hen, and down the mountainside. Which makes me wonder: what is it that happens to a man — or, more accurately, what is it that happens to a boy when he finds himself in a man’s body? This, apparently, among a few million other things.
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