Gallus Probus*

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted.  I have missed tapping out the odd, delightful or frustrating moments of my ordinary life and turning them into mini sagas.  Hopefully, with the change in my schedule (my teaching contract is now over) I will be able to come to this space more regularly.  There are so many things that I would like to share, points I have jotted down–the skeletons of stories… but maybe I will get back in the grove with something very tangible.

You may have seen this picture before.  During our November staycation we shoveled a boatload of snow into this fancy box.  Just before New Years, Stan decided it had marred our front yard long enough.  We took the mold apart and he let loose on the packed snow with his machete.



This is what happened…



I left the shovel in the pic for scale. It’s about 8.5-9 feet tall. Stan had to use a step ladder to carve some of it.

This Camilla-inspired chicken is the result of Stan’s handiwork, the girls’ moral support and my curbside criticisms.  I find I am very confident when it comes to sculpting as long as I am not holding any tools.  In retrospect there was probably something else I could have said instead of, “It looks like a shapeless blob of snow,”  to achieve the desired effect.  By the end, I even put my blade to the chicken, for the feather detail, and all was forgiven as we surveyed our work at dusk…


Two years ago, a friend and I stood in front of our town council lauding the merits of urban chickens.  We were requesting that the city change its current by-laws so we could keep a few laying hens in our backyards.

We were hopeful.

We were denied.

Perhaps a local councilor will drive by our house one of these days and take a second look.  Maybe he’ll even laugh. And with an image of a laying hen lodged in the corner of his mind, who knows what could happen?  Someday this town might be wallowing in tangerine-coloured yolks, all produced inside the by-pass.

But activism isn’t really what’s behind this hen.  Primarily, it is brooding on our front yard because Stan loves making and creating with his hands.  Or as Don, our fastidious and hardworking neighbour might say, because of “culture”.  I think that might be taking it one step too far, but I’ll re-play the conversation here anyway because life is too short not to report on the incredibly gracious people around us.

Tricia and her daughters spend the morning playing outside in the snow, making forts and dusting off the sculpture.  Tricia wonders if she should shovel out the driveway, but is persuaded to keep on playing until all three go inside for lunch.  After all, she reminds herself, the snow is still falling lightly.  As soon as they sit down at the table, both girls see Don, their EIGHTY year old neighbour, pushing snow around their car.

Belén:  Oh no!  It’s Don.  He’s back at it again; he’s cleaning our driveway for us.

Susanna:  Quick, Mommy, quick!  You have to get out there, now, before he’s all done!

Their panicky voices urge Tricia to gulp down the rest of her food as fast as she can.  Judging by their tone, it is obvious her daughters have overheard their parents’ embarrassed lament about leaving the snow too long, realizing that Don has already taken care of it.

Tricia flies out the door, grabs her shovel and gets close enough to Don so he can hear her apologetic explanation.

He looks up, leans on his shovel and lifts one of his insulated ear flaps.

Tricia:  You must wonder about us.  We have enough time to make forts and dust off snow sculptures but we can’t seem to get to clearing our driveway.

Don (gesturing towards the monumental chicken):  Well that’s culture.  If you do culture… then… do culture.  Me, I’m just doing this for exercise, that’s all.

He pulls his ear flaps back down and starts back to work but turns back to add very seriously, “And it is a very good chicken.”

Thanks Don.

And thanks to YOU for finding me, here, again.

Go graciously into this first month of 2013!

*Stan wanted to carve these words into the egg.  I thought it would detract from the sculpture, but I think it is an apt title.  It is Latin for “the noble/generous/serviceable chicken”.


3 thoughts on “Gallus Probus*

  1. I would love to have you as my neighbour (except it if was a real chicken) haha Our neighbours have plastic Santas! :o) I think Stan is right — he should have Gallus Probus carved into the egg…makes for further conversation and investigation, but seriously, where does he come up with this??? It must be the “culture”!! Guess what is on our front yard?

  2. Glad to have you back Tricia. I enjoy reading about all your adventures and misadventures. Brings back wonderful memories of when the girls were young and our backyard was a winter wonderland of an igloo with a toboggan slide and other hills to climb around on. Enjoy these years with your girls.

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