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Freeway Chickens a Lesson in Pluck

October 18, 1987|MARIE POOLER | Marie Pooler is a freeway commuter from Irvine. and

I drive to work on one of the older and busier freeways in Orange County. It has sloping ivy-covered sides with thick shrubbery higher up, near the top. There, at the roadside one day, was a rooster searching for tidbits, seemingly oblivious to speeding cars only feet away. I envisioned an early death for this bird. A few days later, I saw a hen up near the bushes. From then on I paid scant attention to my driving and full attention to the green slope, watching for those chickens. I saw them often, separately and together, over the next two years.

The rooster is a glossy copper color with crisp, dark green tail feathers. She is creamy beige, fluffy and soft. Truly a handsome couple! I began to hope for a brood of chicks.

Several months ago workers arrived to rip out the aged, luxuriant shrubbery in which my chickens often took refuge. Daily, more bushes were chopped down. No sign of my brave and beautiful couple. But one fine day the men moved on, leaving a third of the thicket intact. Hope revived, and for a month I anxiously looked for my chickens as I whizzed by. And then--triumph! There they were, looking healthy, calm, and wonderfully domestic.

I take heart from those chickens. They scratch out an existence alongside a roaring, smoggy freeway amid the litter of broken bottles and paper, and they've lost two-thirds of their property. Maybe I can match their courage and adaptability, accept my losses and my good fortune too, and scratch out a good life here, near the freeway.

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