Our local ranch-supply store just received their yearly spring-chick-duckling-gosling supply. I walk in the double-automatic doors and one sound floats over every other noise in the store -- a thousand high-pitched peeps and cheeps blend like tiny dust grains swirling in a shaft of light. It's almost Easter -- when parents bring their children to see the recently hatched baby birds. It's also time to buy new chicks to replenish the home flock.
I follow the jumping, skipping line of little kids to the stock tanks, where warming lights keep the fragile bundles of down alive. One little girl of about five, dressed in overalls, reaches her chubby hands over the top of lowest stock tank and stirs the softness there. Chicks coalesce in masses as if this happens every few hours. A few brave lumps come back to the warmth of their light. and peck at her fingers. She pulls back.
Her older brother lifts her up and tells her, "S'okay, Annie, go ahead and let them peck you. It won't hurt."
Annie holds her hand open flat, like a tiny plate, and thrusts it into the cloud of feathery lumps. She feels soft baby feathers, diminutive chick-toes and the curious pecks of little beaks. Eyes closed, she floats, her imagination lifting lke a feather on a breeze. She picks one to take home to her family's backyard coop.
New life begins again every spring with hope, optimism and tender connections: small fingers and little scaley chick feet.