“Which way to the Beach”? Number 1-17 inquired as we entered the pen a couple of mornings ago. It was the very same question mankind has been asking ever since our ancient ancestors first crawled out of the sea half a gazillion years ago. It just so happened we had spent the last couple of days mowing and weed eating a really nice “beach” next to a big, beautiful pond north of the pen. It wasn’t the Jersey Shore, but it would do.
Colleen flung open the pen door and off we went… to the beach. “Should I bring my pail and shovel”, #7-17 asked? “Nope”, Colleen replied. “Just make sure you go to the bathroom before we leave… cuz we’re Not Stopping”!
Years of scientific research and study by some of the government’s most famous and revered biologists has proven that if you want to see a whooper chick’s eyes widen to twice their normal size, take them to the beach. Our little adventurers were suddenly all eyeballs as the sights and sounds of a new world began their assault. But their trust in the two white big birds leading them held firm as we traveled over the freshly cut grass path towards the most famous of nature’s amusement parks.
“Are we there yet,” #2-17 asked?
“Just cool your jets, little lady,” Colleen replied. “It’s all about the journey. Not the destination. And besides, anticipation is 90% of the fun anyway.”
And soon we were there. The beach! It lay before us in panorama. An Eden without the snake. A Lost World minus the Lost. A wide swath of heaven, where the land kissed the sea… ah, the pond, and where the sand had magically turned to soft, freshly cut vegetation. The sun shone down with a benevolent light that animated every tree, flower and blade of grass while the pond returned exact images of our dazed little wanderers in reflection. There was no boardwalk or life guard or Beach Closed Due To Pollution sign. But then beaches are like snowflakes… every one’s different. And it’s all about perception anyway.
“I feel dizzy!” #4-17 commented. “Maybe we shouldn’t drink the water.”
“It’s not the water,” #3-17 replied. “It’s the cotton candy.”
“Surf’s Up!” shouted #3-17 as the water rose around his hocks.
And so began a very special time. First times are always special, but especially for whooper chicks. And their days are full of them. Each one is met with the same intense, wide-eyed sense of wonder that must be at least partially digested before going on to the next. Within the context of this very new place, the dragonfly, the frog, the snail become new worlds to discover… and conquer.
And for Colleen and I, it is a place of privilege. Watching all of this magic unfold through the thin lens of our costume helmet was like sitting in a blind observing the first day of Creation. Almost overwhelming! But that’s a story for another day.
The minutes passed at warp speed as the beach provided its dose of “experiential shock and awe.” But sadly, life is on a timer… and ours’ began its all too familiar beep. And anyway, the chicks were tiring out from the sensory overload. Fortunately for everything that walks, flies or crawls, there can be too much of a good thing. Good things, after all, do get tiring… and sensing its approach is the most important of our seven senses. Just think of all the aspiring actors whose careers failed because they were never quite able to leave the stage.
“Time to head home,” Colleen announced. “Remember. School tomorrow.”
With juvenile reluctance, the chicks dutifully collected themselves up. “Don’t forget to pick up your trash,” #4-17 said. “We don’t want to give them an excuse not to bring us back here again.”
Six chicks followed Colleen down the path, as #1-17 and I lagged behind, bringing up the rear.
“So… what did you think?” I asked #1.
He paused for a moment in deep reflection, then looked up at me and replied, “Life’s a Beach and then… you Fly.”
Right On, little fellow. Right On.