By Sherry Fay
You’ve heard of Rudolph and Frosty and the Gingerbread Man. But have you heard the tale of the Christmas Chicken?
It was half past December, about 7:30am when I drove past Robinson Pond on my way into school. A herd of third graders, excited for Grinch Day, were all anxiously awaiting me donned in my Cindy Lou Who wear. The car’s gauge read 14 degrees, the pond a gleaming sheet of ice, and a wintry storm was brewing overhead.
There on the side of the road, a few feet from the boat access lot, was a single white chicken strutting anxiously about pecking the frozen ground. With his feathers painted white and a comb striking red, he looked like a Christmas chicken!
I pulled over to see if I could nudge him home. I can’t imagine what he thought of me in my red and white striped pajamas and my Grinchy hair. The cars passing by slowed as they approached us; a 5 foot 7 Cindy-Lou-Who chasing the Christmas Chicken to no avail, for each step I took, he hurried in the other direction. I decided if I couldn’t catch the Christmas Chicken, at least I could feed him, which, of course, was a few wheat thins and a package of oatmeal. He ate that up in two seconds flat with one eye on the strange lady with twelve inches of hair sprouting from her forehead. He must have thought me the strangest breed of chicken.
After fifteen minutes of failure, I had to leave for work and promised Christmas Chicken I would help him, if not back to the North Pole, at least to a safe shelter during the storm. Before I left, I took a few pictures of Christmas Chicken and posted him on the Hudson Facebook page, hoping someone would claim him, but not even Santa fessed up.
On my way home, I pulled into the boat lot again and there he was, bathing in the December sun, blending in with a birch stump, his white feathers shivering. I fed him again and sat with him awhile, ignoring the curious cars crawling by. It must have looked like the most unusual Christmas picnic by the pond’s shore, between a rather large Cindy Lou Who and the Christmas Chicken.
After a few more failed attempts, I still couldn’t catch him and he worried me as he backed toward the frozen pond, so I left him behind and approached a woman walking her pup who led me about a half mile down the road.Away to the neighbor’s I flew like a flash, I opened the door, threw on my mask, and what do my wandering eyes should appear, a YARD FULL OF CHICKENS! and a few that resembled Christmas Chicken!
I walked to the door, wearing my Grinchy galore, and knocked.
and knocked again, until I realized no one was going to answer the door to a Dr. Suess singing telegram.
I dashed back to my car and wrote a note. I turned back around to the house and there in front of me were TWENTY CHICKENS at my feet, clucking away. They had followed me to the car! I greeted them all and apologized for not having any more oatmeal and asked if one of their cousins had a habit of leaving the coop. They assured me they were all accounted for except for their Uncle Cluck who eloped with a local leghorn a few years back. After securing the note on the front stoop and leaving the parade of poultry in my dust, I headed back toward the pond. Still no one had claimed Christmas Chicken on the Hudson facebook page, but there was hope: Hudson’s reserve fire station was a few acres from the pond, and lo and behold, two officers stood in the driveway!
Forgetting my Grinchy getup, I jumped out of the car, ignoring the look on their faces and the pathetic request I made of their time. After my explanation and a few shared laughs, they advised me to call the animal officer. I hadn’t even thought of that! But then again, both officers had totally forgotten it was Grinch Day so I forgave my lack of brain cells, probably lost on several months of zooms and google meets.
“Hi there,” I said. ” I don’t know if you can help me, but there’s a stray chicken by the pond here and there’s a storm coming.”The animal officer informed me that it wasn’t against the law for chickens to roam and the stress of trying to capture it could actually do more harm. When I hung up, I concluded that spending the night in a snow storm would be Christmas Chicken’s ultimate doom and I knew what I had to do!
I wasn’t getting anywhere with Hudson. I’d given them four hours to claim the Christmas Chicken with no success. There was only one solution:
TO CALL ON LITCHFIELD!
The friendly farmers and bighearted neighbors were always up to lending a helping hand and why not a Christmas Chicken?
First thing I did was post for help on the Litchfield’s What’s Up page. Within minutes, residents were sending advice, asking for updates, and offering help. A few brave citizens even rode to the pond as if on a midnight mission but no one could seem to either find Christmas Chicken or get him down from the 30 foot pine tree he was now roosting on for the night.
The sun had set by now and I struggled through dinner, worried he was going to meet his demise in the storm or his fate with a coyote.
Suddenly, about seven hours after my post, a family had just returned from the ski slopes and stumbled upon my post. It was hard for the Couture Clan to ignor the urgent plea, especially since they had a reputation for rescuing and rehoming furry and feathered friends many a time.
Next thing I knew, the newfound hero sent a photo of her two kids in the back seat of their mini-van determined to capture the culprit! Would he be saved before the first snowflake?
Yes, you bet your tail feathers, he was! Between headlamps, flashlights and a ten-foot ladder, the Christmas Chicken had been taken into custody, pleading the fifth. He would not reveal his name, his misfortune, or how much oatmeal he had eaten in one sitting.
On the way “Home” he was given the name Chase and enjoyed the warm lap of an adorable sixth grader swaddling him in a butterfly blanket. He was bathed, groomed and spoiled with scrambled eggs and a bowl full of banana before bedtime. It looked like he had made himself quite cozy in the heart of yet another kind-hearted, compassionate Litchfield family.
So there is the story of the Christmas Chicken, otherwise known as Chase, which is a name that surely fits the adventures he had experienced that day in December, by the icy shore of Robinson Pond, along the wintry water’s edge, seeking that special someone that would offer a Christmas miracle.
UPDATE: Meg Couture reports that Chase is quite the ladies’ man and gets along well with all her hens. He is a big, magestic Americana boy, but will need to be rehomed. If you are interested, contact Meg at email@example.com. Chase’s only request was a lifetime supply of maple and brown sugar oatmeal.