Back at the Boston Homestead where my daughter and her husband are expanding their farm across what was once a neighborhood of company copper miners, their hens escaped the coop. The girls didn’t go far. Chanticleer, the rooster who crows when I sing to him about eating cracked corn, didn’t stray from them. They gathered among the budding blueberry plants and partied.
I’ll accept that as my cue to follow suit. Somebody blow party horn.
School’s out, but may the learning never cease. How quickly coursework gave way to gardening. Black soil slips under the tips of my fingernails, erasing twenty-one straight months of studies and writing for an MFA. Technically, I get my degree by mail after June 1. May is limbo month. A month of fresh ideas, starts and new paths. A month to find joy among emerging flowers, seedlings, and dreamers.
I’m with the chickens, pecking after the best blossoms. Except my escape from the student coop calls for cake not flower petals. I’ll confess to having had two lemon cakes already. One in late March after I completed my thesis. The special women in my veteran spouses group lent their stories and struggles. My protagonist met her own group of warrior sisters, ones she would called BABs. Danni Gordon gets cake in THE MIRACLE OF DUCKS. Lemon cake. When I completed my thesis and turned over my manuscript (MS) to my BABs, one of them made her famous lemon cake. After she read the MS, she baked me a second!
A fun aside to the second cake: Coming home from our last group meeting, I had lemon cake in my car. I stopped in Ripply where I haven’t been in ages because of the pandemic. In front of a friend’s house, we distantly gathered, delighting in the sunshine and recent second vaccinations. It seemed surreal to “people” and then I remembered. I had cake. A small village street consumed a lemon cake. Forgotten birthdays and private celebrations surfaced. Through shared cake, we felt human again.
I’m distancing my grad celebrations which is really an excuse to camp for three nights. But first, to Bayfield and the Old Rittenhouse Inn on Monday. My novel began in Bayfield. It flared in many directions, and in the end it became ashes. The thesis I wrote rose up from the ashes of my first novel to become a Phoenix among my drafts. I kept the title and protagonist but changed the premise, crafted a plot, and created a compelling character arc with a memorable group of women who carry the burdens their husband’s bring home from the battlefield. For me, to visit Bayfield is to reconcile the full journey I’ve been on to write my novel.
After a night in Wisconsin, I’ll pick up my incredible celebration cake from three Chippewa sisters in Minnesota. Then I return four hours to the Keweenaw to camp for three nights at McLain State Park. Cake, bonfires, cacao, and the sound of surf and spring peepers. Friday, I’ll go home to wish my Svalbard daughter a happy birthday. Then it’s off to the Unicorn Room for a Musical Zen Sound Bath with my sound therapist. She’s offering to do the meditation that bathes participants in sounds from drums to crystal bowls. It will be live on her FaceBook page at 5 pm EST on Friday, May 14. If you are interested in sharing this experience with me, shoot me an email at wordsforpeople(at)gmail(dot)com for links and instructions.
On Saturday, May 15, I’ve set up three Zoom Rancher Gatherings to cover a diversity of time zones and availability. Hop on to meet and talk with fellow writers at Carrot Ranch. Maybe meet the chickens of Boston or the wild Mause of the House. Celebrate. Socialize. I’ll read a snippet from my thesis and ask any questions about MFAs or writing. Bring your own bubbly! Times: 9 am/2 pm/7 pm (Eastern Time US).
If you are interested in the sound bath, socializing on Saturday, or setting up a time to chat, shoot me an email at wordsforpeople(at)gmail(dot)com for links and instructions. If you want to send graduation cards, you can mail to headquarters at 1112 Roberts Street, Hancock, MI 49930.
It’s my birthday on May 21. My son and daughter-in-law are driving up from Wisconsin for the weekend. I will complete my celebrations that weekend and start the new journey in earnest. For now, I’m going to party like hens let loose in the berry patch.
Note extended deadline on account of Party Business.
May 6, 2021, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about party hens. Who are these chickens and why do they party? Go where the prompt leads!
Respond by May 18, 2021. Use the comment section below to share, read, and be social. You may leave a link, pingback, or story in the comments. If you want to be published in the weekly collection, please use the form. Rules & Guidelines.
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The Hen Party by Charli Mills
Chanty shook his coxcomb. “Party ‘til the cows come home. Farmer Brown doesn’t know his party hens.”
The hens lunged for the blueberry patch. In the morning Farmer Brown would blame a blight or a bloke. Either way, he wouldn’t believe his best layer had a spare key to the coop. Seventeen hens clucked and clogged beneath the moon.
“It’s time,” said Henny Penny. They slowed their shimmies and wrote their plans in chicken-scratch.
“Party hard, Ladies. We have to write the next campaign to get a Madame President in Office.” Henny Penny held the party line – Chicks Only.