Our weekend was sunny, slow and surely spring.
On the year’s first truly warm days, our world is barefoot and awake as long as possible. New freckles, yanked dandelions, evening gatherings around fire. Suddenly, our deck is full of neighbors and we’re making dinner.
We hiked and collected bits for Cup’s grave. I found her dead in the coop last Friday. She’s laid an egg that morning, snuggled into me as I filled the water basin. Her death is a mystery. Heart attack? I dug a hole and then, at Ruby’s request, waited for my kids to bury her. I watched the flock perform an unmistakable ceremony; they took notice of Cup throughout the day, circling her sunlit, circular resting spot.
We reinstalled the spruce tree fort, bigger and sturdier for our bigger and sturdier kids. Margot lost her fourth tooth, her smile now interrupted by a big space that permits saliva to fly all about with every “th.”
We gardened. We hid and found eggs. We baked.
^ an easter tradition in our home: challah hollah! I’ve tried many variations of paska and eventually we fell more in love with challah. We like this recipe best, found in one of my favorite books: Baking Bread With Children. ^
I told Margot about Cup while we biked home from school. Her hair folded back around her helmet as she squinted into the sun. “That makes me sad. I feel really sad for Ruby.” Her strong little legs peddled next to mine. I nodded and exhaled. “Can I pluck a few feathers to keep?” I told her yes. We crossed the creek. It was loud.
Once home, Margot touched and studied Cup with a tender science. I stood silent witness, learning from my daughter how to honor a life and ponder a death. “So her heart isn’t beating anymore. So the blood isn’t moving and that’s why she’s so hard? I can feel her bones. I am happy it looks like she is sleeping,” she observed with her hand on Cup’s wing. “I feel like we should eat her tonight? Or something? Do you?”
I married a man forever endeared to childhood, who sees water slides on the hill, trapezes on a branch, monkey bars in an old fence. Yesterday his craigslist dreams came true when he was the first (of dozens, in minutes) to email about a giant trampoline for sale. We jumped until our beds begged us inside. This morning he and the girls were out there at 7am, urging the sun up with laughter and bounds. The trampoline happens to rest right over the earth where Cup rests.
Ruby was tearful as she walked to see to her beloved Cup, her hands raised up into the security of her dad’s palm on one side, mine on the other.
It was dusk and Cup’s grave was gone. We saw an expanse of dirt and pinecones. My confusion shifted to amazement when I realized. They danced and kicked dirt in front of us, demonstrating how it was done. Margot said it out loud: “Holy cow. The other chickens buried Cup. That’s so cool.”
I unearthed her for Ruby. She said goodbye, her blond curls blurring into Cup’s blond feathers. And then we tucked her in for good.
All weekend, a colorful herd of kids ran figure eights through our open doors. Andy and I shared short kitchen slow dances in the middle of making snacks, giving underdogs, making snacks, applying bandaids and making snacks. We always wanted our home to be a home kids would come to, settle into, run through. I don’t think we ever imagined how messy it would always feel but we did imagine how full of life it would feel. It is full. Lively.