Smith Says: Nicky and Chanticleer

  • Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Widdle and I have a lot to crow about around here. Or so the latest tenant seems to think.
Last week while I was fretting about finding new renters for the condo I bought before marrying Widdle, a squatter appeared a little closer to home. In fact, he moved in under my very nose.
A rooster has decided our humble abode is his idea of Green Acres. He pops up periodically, which is to say several times a day. An exceptionally tall, leggy specimen, he comes bobbing across the back forty from God knows where, with one jet black tail feather crooked jauntily in the air.
He reminds me of Foghorn Leghorn, but without the corny Kentucky Colonel accent. He is supremely confident, and we expect to see him pop into the post office or the dollar store any day now.
I call him Chanticleer, after the proud, handsome rooster in Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales. He roams our property as if he owns it, eating bugs in the grass and crowing gleefully with every third step. Where he came from and what he’s doing in our little slice of suburbia, I have no idea.
“He’s a rogue. A rogue rooster,” Widdle said darkly. “They think the grass is always greener…”
The real fun started when our beloved Nicky spied this ginormous rooster. At 13, she’s so mellow we often feel her ribs to see if she’s breathing.  Nic doesn’t get excited about much—or at least she didn’t, B.C. Before Chanticleer.
One afternoon Nicky was sniffing around our ancient oak looking for acorns, which she likes to eat and then throw up on the sofa. She was rooting around like a truffle-scenting pig when Big C strutted into view. Her head shot up and her ears pricked forward. She quivered from tip to tail. After a long, incredulous look, she uttered an Apache war whoop and chased that bird like a dog on fire.
Shrieking hysterically--anyone who knows a Jack Russell will verify that they can shriek like a banshee--she chased Chanticleer around the oak tree, through our side yard and into the neighbor’s back yard.
As I watched--doubled-over laughing on the side porch—the rooster stayed a couple strides ahead, racing like a Road Runner cartoon. Then he apparently decided that if he was going to be eaten, it wouldn’t be by a 15-pound yammering mutt.
Suddenly Chanticleer hit the brakes, turned on a dime and flapped his wings fiercely at his pursuer.
Our dog is old, but she still has primal reflexes. She skidded to a stop so fast she left ruts in the grass. Chanticleer bluffed and crowed, Nicky growled and huffed, and then it was over.
Nicky casually lowered her snout in the grass as if to say, “I’m just looking for acorns, pal….” Now, the oak tree was 30 yards behind her. She knew it and the rooster knew it. We all pretended not to know it, however, which allowed her to retain some shred of dignity as she ambled back into her kingdom. Thus they hammered out an armed truce.
Things went along peacefully for a few days, until Chanticleer decided our household needs to wake up at 6 a.m. He was on the porch this morning, crowing his heart out and waking Widdle from a sound sleep.
“That rooster has to go,” he declared, and began plotting Chanticleer’s removal.
I don’t know what he has planned, but for now… my money’s on the bird.
Julie R. Smith, who wishes a stray pony would come along, can be reached at widdleswife@aol.com.

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