May 26, 2015 – What a great adventure we had this weekend! I spotted an advertisement in the newspaper that Mom used as mulch in the vegetable garden. It said, “Don’t Miss Out! Come to the Flea Market before All You Want is Gone!”
I spurred into action! I asked Sawyer and Violet if they wanted to take a ride with me over to the empty field down the road from Mrs. Turner’s farm. That’s where the flea market was being held.
“That sounds like fun!” gushed Violet, before running back to Coop #1 for the purse the bantams made for her out of purple duct tape.
“What do you think?” I asked Sawyer. “Should we see who else wants to go?”
That’s when Peaches wandered by with a night crawler dangling from her beak. I wondered why she hadn’t already gobbled it up. Then I saw her pass it off to Addie, who promptly took it up the ramp and disappeared into their henhouse.
“We’re having worm stew tonight,” explained Peaches nonchalantly. “Would you like to come to dinner at our coop?” she added with a tilt of her head.
“Actually… we were just coming to invite you to go on an adventure with us.”
“Oh, I LOVE adventures,” she said clapping her wings. Her golden feathers shimmered in the sunlight. “Where to…?”
“The flea market,” I answered enthusiastically.
Peaches’ face fell.
“As much as I love spending time with the two of you, I don’t currently need anything at a flea market. Though I would love to sit and watch them push around what must be the tiniest of grocery carts!”
“It’s not a market for fleas,” Sawyer kindly explained. “It’s a giant yard sale with tables filled with all sorts of shiny and interesting goodies. We think it’d be a wonderful exploration for the day. Are you in?”
She looked back at Coop #1 and lifted her beak high in the air. “It doesn’t smell like Addie has started her stew yet. I’ll go tell the others and meet you in the driveway!”
And with that, a plan was hatched. There were eight of us in all. Charlotte, Addie, Peaches, Sawyer, Violet, Tim, Maisy and me. We piled into the pickup truck and headed down the road filling its crowded cab with lively chatter. The entrance gates had been open for 30 minutes, but already the field was inundated with vendor tables and white pop-up craft tents. The enticing smell of sausages and onions grilling nearby wafted through the fairgrounds causing my stomach to grumble. Large gray speakers perched atop tall wooden poles reverberated with peppy music that was interrupted only for the occasional announcement of a “5-Minute Super Deal!”. My senses overloaded with the sights and smells and the anticipation of a flea market bootie hunt.
“Where to first,” I queried. I was finding it hard to concentrate on a plan of attack.
“Why don’t we start with those tables over there with the sparkly jewels and work ourselves around in a circle?” suggested Sawyer.
“Why don’t we split up to cover more ground and if someone sees something of a particular interest, a call can be made to the others on the Walkie Talkies. We brought them, didn’t we?” Addie asked Maisy.
“I have them right here,” she replied cheerfully, holding up a red backpack.
“Where shall we meet?” I asked, barely able to contain myself.
“How about two hours from now next to the sausage vendor,” Lottie suggested.
It was a superb plan. We partnered up by two’s and set out in every direction. Sawyer and I stopped at a tent that sold pencils which were hand-carved out of pieces of birch. It was something that Peaches would love. Sawyer gave me a boost and hoisted me high enough that I could see over the top of a large wooden bin. I reached in and picked out the perfect pencil. It was stunning and had a price tag of $2.00. I asked the carver if he would also sell us a length of birch branch. “It’s for a dear friend,” I said, “who unselfishly gave her pet stick to our Queen Wilma so she would always have a friend nearby. Wilma recently passed away, God rest her soul.”
The man had a rugged beard that smelled like tallow. At first I didn’t think he understood the poignancy of my story, but then he turned away for a moment and rustled through a well-stocked wine barrel crammed with uncarved birch sticks. He returned with a beauty.
“That’s perfect! How much…?” I cooed reaching into my satchel for a dollar bill.
He bent down, transferring his gaze from me to Sawyer.
“Here, Hap…” Sawyer said, reaching into her purse. “I want to pitch in for this, too.”
The man stood back up, placed his hands on his leather apron and let out a laugh that shook the ground beneath us.
“Talking chickens!” he said shaking his head. “It’s like I always tell the missus; you can be a radioactive donkey with a jet engine burning out your flap hole. As long as you have the cash, you’re good with me. That’ll be $2.00 for the pencil.”
Then he leaned down again and softly whispered, “No cost for the branch. I’m an old softy when it comes to pet sticks.”
We thanked him for his kind generosity. Pleased with our purchase, we whistled all the way to the next booth. Oh, the treasures we spotted! There were a few that we passed on thanks to Sawyer’s good sense. As thrilled as I would be to own a blinking, neon “OPEN” sign, we simply don’t have the space for one in the chicken yard.
At the two-hour mark, were ambled over to the shaded spot between Salvatore’s Sausage and Pizza Cart and Lorelei’s Lemonade Stand. Our satchel brimmed with dazzling riches. A cupcake cookbook, a metal strong box, a baseball mitt, three pale-blue Mason jars, a case of empty orange pill vials, an O-ring with 17 different size skeleton keys, 3 silver serving spoons and an antique photograph of a flock of hens that reminded me and Sawyer of our family. The rest of the gang arrived shortly after us and we quickly set about the business of show and tell.
Violet and Maisy each sported a pink crocheted vest and matching pink pearl necklaces. Charlotte displayed her purchase of two, slightly worn loafers with the pennies still intact. She’s going to turn them into flower pots. Addie carried a small box. From it she removed an antique glass doorknob. It was brilliant! Tim modeled a satin top hat which made him look like Fred Astaire. Dear Peaches bought herself a magnifying glass to help her more easily spot fleas, and a dented harmonica that only plays the high notes.
We headed back to the truck after gorging ourselves on pizza, cotton candy and apples on a stick. It was a glorious day!
Later that night, before Peaches retired for the evening, Sawyer and I slipped into Coop #1. We placed the carved pencil on top of her writing journal and then reverently leaned the new pet stick gently against the corner of her favorite nest box. We didn’t bother leaving a note. Some things are better left to wonderment. A short while later, we looked toward her window and spotted Peaches holding up the length of birch, bewildered. Then she hugged it.
No finer home would a pet stick ever have.