We all are connected. We are creatures of belonging . . . . finding our way.
I came home from this morning’s radio show to be greeted by the charging of twelve bold, red tawny Hens and of course one supremely stately and loud white Rooster, Prospero. Dutifully he brings up the rear, half jogging but keenly alert to the entire flock as he moves them forward with a strong crow and wings full spread out . . . as if each flap sends a little hug and nudge their way. Feather flying mad flock sprint cackling ARRIVAL -- full stop at my feet – now perfectly still, waiting, watching and hoping. Most days I bring home bread to toss them and today is no exception. I open the back car door and pull out day old bakery -- immediately there is electricity in the air . . .they know the sound of the bag opening . . . . their heads turn and they lean in with strong anticipation. Some bread is thrown about .. . . and I save some for letting them eat out of my hands. I have raised each of them from their day old hatch out of the egg. They know my voice and my movements and follow me around my little Prairie Heart Farm with dogged devotion . . . and with a strut that is reminiscent of something far away and long ago.
My father loved chickens. So much so that he built a mini-amphitheater for them on the little hobby farm that was my parent’s first home. Teaching Physics at the University of Minnesota he would invite his colleagues to sit on the rough bleachers and simply watch. My mother would laugh remembering how serious and attentive these scientists were – transfixed by the flock’s movement, how they ate . . . the sounds they made – the relationships that they had to each other. The bizarre little chicken theater that Dudley Fitz had created for the Physics Department viewing pleasure became the stuff of folklore – so much so, that even when I attended the University of Minnesota some thirty years after he had left the University -- I found folks who still remembered. Some of my dad’s students -- who now were teaching, also relished telling me the story of “Dudley’s Chickens” and their bizarre fascination . . . . and the way it brought the department together in both odd and lovely ways.
And I deeply treasure his stories to me about how farm chickens were the bird most closely related to dinosaurs and his warm patience in encouraging me to watch them and imagine them thirty feet high and roaming around the pre-historic prairie.
And sometimes I catch myself still watching them as if they are mini dinosaurs giving us a link to thousands of years ago. Connecting me to pre-historic times.
And so I smiled at the chickens surrounding me this morning – their energy and purposefulness. These chickens, the little brown barn, the magnificent willow tree in the pasture, the horses in the paddock, dogs barking, cats lounging, vegetable garden harvesting, country kitchen cooking. . . . are all part of my story. What I bring where ever I go. Even if they are never mentioned. I am connected to them deeply. And I share this with you, so that you may see some underpinnings in the show that is rooted in our natural world. Nature is not tidy. And our radio show is less confined by a particular strict format as it is driven by being in the moment and exploring where the conversation takes us.Conversations that may meander but are filled with creative thought and curiosity. Like my running chickens I find our shows chasing after ideas, pausing at times and then feasting on stories of people, happenings and ideas that matter.
My dad and I also would make up our “theories” . . . whimsical for the most part. And we created our “flock theory”. It was our explanation of why you could travel half away around the world and “happen” to bump in to someone you may have known in High School over twenty-five years ago and there you are on a remote beach in Italy bumping into each other – surprised and delighted. Or why someone comes into your life just when you need them, helping you cross an emotional bridge or providing the connection to a work opportunity or affirming a perspective you struggled with or just being with them makes you feel you belong right there in that moment – because you are with your flock. We all are in process of being called by our flock, expanding flock and showing up for whatever reason to support our flock.
I like to think that “Connections” is flock calling. It is making good conversation, a pause into discovering someone’s story and our connection to it. I am honored by the guests and co-hosts who join me on “Connections” – and help me continue to see the world in new interesting ways.
I look forward to you joining our conversation on Saturday mornings at 9 am on AM950 radio, the Progressive Voice of Minnesota. It is my greatest hope that when you join-in either live or by podcast that you will find a connection for yourself that leads to discoveries, opportunities, reflection, new perspectives . . . and perhaps even a little bit of “flock theory” at play.