Finding balance in the second half of life

Not Chicken to Zoom

In Fulfillment on July 12, 2020 at 8:54 pm

My office has two windows, for which I’m grateful. One faces west, and through it I can see anyone coming up the driveway, the occasional deer getting too close to the vegetable garden, and cavorting rabbits or one or twenty turkeys that explain why Bodhi is barking like a dog possessed. The windows are covered with matchstick blinds, or they could be, if I unrolled them. Mostly, I don’t. It’s not always textbook productive, but I appreciate being able to stare off into the distance.

My spouse-ish one inclines toward making things. Sometimes the things he makes are over-sized animals. In our barn’s storage racks we have a half-dozen multi-colored reindeer, three-dimensional if you slot them together. I haven’t looked recently, but we have also, at various times, had a herd of adult-sized stick horses and a small flock of musk-oxen. At some point, a four-foot-tall chicken made its way into my office, where she has stood patiently in a corner for some time. 

I don’t mind Zoom calls, really I don’t. (Neither do I love them enough to invest in that special lighting you’re apparently supposed to get so you’re not backlit or a voice from the dark void.) My issue has been with late-in-the-day calls, because the west-facing window that affords such varied entertainment is directly behind my desk. Come 6:30 or so at this time of year, I’m positively incandescent on the screen. I’m also entirely blinded by the light.

My first few attempts to problem-solve involved draping a towel or blanket over the window, more difficult than it sounds, given the climbing-on-the-desk maneuvers required. Sure there was a better solution, I started researching curtains, room-darkening drapes, blackout blinds, and light-blocking shades. I couldn’t quite see how any would work: Would it bother me to have something on one window but not both, even though it’s completely unnecessary for the north-facing? What kind of covering could make itself invisible 95 percent of the time? What wasn’t a crazy investment for a problem that occurs only occasionally and during a pandemic?

I explained all of this over dinner to my spouse-ish one. “What about your chicken?” he asked. Indeed. What about my chicken. It took me a minute. As it turns out, a four-foot-tall chicken is sufficiently rotund to block almost all of the eye-level sun. She’s easy enough to lift onto the desk, and I can still peer around her if I hear tires on the gravel drive or wonder what Bodhi’s spotted in the yard. When the call is finished (or the sun is set) she goes obediently back to her corner.

I tell you all of this so that if you have a late-in-the-day Zoom with me, and I happen to look up and seem to smirk, you’ll know it’s just me smiling at my chicken. I’m still paying attention. And being reminded that, even—especially—during these odd times, what I need is likely here, somewhere, though I may not recognize it at first.

  1. I love this so much! And please greet your spouse-ish one for me 🤣

  2. Another week, another lovely essay! But where is the picture of the chicken? Also, is Chris making and selling these chickens? I could use something new in my own pandemic office to make me smile.

  3. That wonderful last line is a good reminder for all of us. Thank you.

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