No, not the states below the Mason Dixon Line. I’m talking about the cooperative store started by farmers in Virginia.
When I was a kid, we’d go to Southern States to buy things like cattle feed, bulk dog food, bag balm, seeds, medicine for cattle, and SPRING CHICKS. Mostly, going to Southern States wasn’t all that exciting. The store had a kind of chemical/sweet feed smell and there wasn’t a whole lot to interest an eight-year-old. Until the spring chicks arrived.
We’d walk in the store and hear them. A chorus of tiny cheeps. There they would be, moving balls of yellow fluff, walking around, pecking at feed, sipping water, and pooping (it wasn’t ALL adorable). We could hold them as long as we were G-E-N-T-L-E.
Back at the farm, the box of chicks would go out in the barn with a light to keep them warm and we’d visit and cuddle as often as allowed.
But here’s the problem with adorably, baby chicks — they grow into chickens.
And it happens much more quickly than you’d expect. One day some of the fluff has been replaced by rough feathers and soon the adolescent chickens are as awkward as any teenager. Then, next thing you know, they’re just plain old chickens waiting to peck the back of your hand when you gather their eggs.
But isn’t that the way with so many things? Nothing stays the same. Nothing lasts. Seems like Robert Frost had something to say about that when he wrote Nothing Gold Can Stay.
Nature’s first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf’s flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.
Yep. Baby chicks don’t stay adorable very long. But the memory of them . . . oh, that lasts and lasts. I haven’t gone with my dad to pick up spring chicks in nearly forty years. But I can close my eyes and hear their cheeps, feel the softness of their down, and smell the must and dust of their warming box.
I think Robert Frost was a little bit sneaky. When he captured a bit of gold on paper, he made it stay. Here’s hoping I can do a bit of that myself.