Tending the flock

Originally Appeared in : 9923-11/7/19

Seeing my wife clutch her purse as though she were a spy or a thief was the last thing I expected to see when I returned from washing my hands at the steakhouse.


She also seemed rushed and ready to leave, even though we were still waiting on the check.


It had been a full 45 minutes since we had left the napping children in Noah’s care to steal a rare afternoon date together, but she didn’t appear as though there was any concern coming from the homefront.


I also noticed the rest of the bread was missing from the table, as she continued to fidget in her seat like one of our 5-and-unders.


“Where’s the bread?” I asked, rhetorically.


Magan only clutched her purse tighter, before spilling out her plans that had formed while I was away washing off the remainders of my prime rib sandwich.


“Now, if I go around to the far side would you be able to flush it out towards me?” she asked.


“I guess,” I said.


Magan continued to rock back and forth, never letting loose of her purse, as the waitress finally dropped off the check and we settled our tab.


This trip wasn’t all travel and adventure, mind you. There were still groceries to be gotten at two different stores, and the hourglass signaling the end to naptime was pouring sand like a child’s bucket at the beach. Yet, Magan meandered straight to the thicket engrossing the power pole and junction box five feet from our van.


There, just like it had been when we had pulled up an hour earlier, was a chicken.


Not just any chicken. A rare Britsh Cream Legbar.


And my bride was determined to find this rare breed a new countryside home away from the bright lights of the interstate restaurant district.


“How on earth do you think it got here?” Magan asked, moving into position.


“I have no idea. Maybe it’s lost,” I said, immediately followed by, “Magan, please don’t walk on the ‘Buried Electrical Line,” pointing at the sign of the same name.


Twenty minutes later, with rain beginning to beat down on all three of us, Magan decided it better to lose the battle than the war and head to Kroger and Walmart before the rest of the troops woke from their naps.


When we made it home with our van full of groceries, my initial hope was that the thrill of the earlier chase had quenched Magan’s desire to re-home wayward fowl, and then I remembered I married a woman filled with enough determination to move a literal mountain if that became her cause of choice.


So, with Magan assuming the role of Hannibal, Noah as Templeton Peck, Simon as B.A. Baracus and Jesse as Howling Mad Murdock, the chicken wrangling “A-Team” piled into their own conversion van to complete their poultry rescue mission.


Thankfully, no one was electrocuted, or wandered onto the interstate, and this time they returned with a cat carrier filled with one rare bird.


“Noah can have whatever he wants,” Magan joked. “He went all the way into the thicket, and we were finally able to catch her. We named her Thistle.”


As it turned out, Thistle had been living in her makeshift electrical thicket between Longhorn and Cracker Barrel for well over a month, with a couple of folks even going so far as to bring by chicken feed twice a week to make sure Thistle didn’t starve.


Now Thistle’s made a successful transition to coop life alongside BSW, Frieda Mae, Nugget and Mrs. Puff.


What the kids don’t realize is that for all the lengths Magan went to in order to rescue Thistle, she’d go a million times further in order to do the same for any one of them.


It’s an allegory found in multiple Gospels but one none of us should ever forget.


“Consider the ravens, for they neither sow nor reap; they have no storeroom nor barn, and yet God feeds them; how much more valuable you are than the birds.” (Luke 12:24)


Hopefully none of the children end up living in a thicket by the interstate, but if they do they should expect Magan not far behind, ready to rescue them.


And the next time Magan and I get to enjoy a lunch date, remind me never to park near any overgrowth of bushes or weeds.


Jason Halcombe has five sons and two daughters. He and his wife, Magan, are members of Immaculate Conception Church, Dublin.

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