Brunhilde, Figaro and Mimi
I’ve always loved peacocks. There is something about their iridescent blue-green color and magnificent tails that calls to mind the exotic and extravagant. Over the years I would be drawn to journals, pillows and clothes with peacock images. I didn’t overdo it. I wasn’t a crazy peacock lady, just a reminder here and there of this beautiful bird. I also imagined having peacocks on the farm, wandering around the yard and making their haunting calls—it would be so beautiful. I worried about predators so I never investigated owning peacocks and peacocks remained a dream. But things changed this year. I stopped traveling and Alexandra came home to ride out the pandemic. Suddenly, there was time and space for new opportunities I would not have otherwise and the dream of owning peacocks became a reality.
The end of June, I showed Alexandra a video of baby peacocks on my favorite YouTube channel, The Chateau Diaries. She started to research peacock care and look for breeders and the next thing I knew we had reserved three baby peacocks to be picked up a few days later in the next county. We already had plenty of space for them to roam and a shed that would make the perfect roost to keep them safe at night. It seemed like destiny, all with the help of Alexandra’s persistence and love of animals. We finally succumbed to the lure of farm animals, albeit vanity farm animals whose sole purpose is beauty and to make us happy.
Since Alexandra and I both love opera as well as birds, she thought it would be fitting that our babies have very distinguished names from our favorite opera composers. We have hatch-mates, Figaro, a male and Brunhilde, a sweet dove-colored female. Figaro is already turning green and struts around like he is in charge. The third baby is Mimi, a white peacock, beautiful if a bit neurotic, so we are forever pleading “no no Mimi”. Caroline is the official bird wrangler and likes to hold and cuddle them. Alexandra has become a farmer with pitchfork and straw to clean their roost. Every night, I fix them a lovely supper of lettuce and white bread. In a few weeks, they will be old enough to start exploring the yard and the bread helps lure them back into the safety of the roost at night. We can’t imagine life without our peacocks.
The challenges of 2020 are bound together with the changes we make this year that become this iridescent experience as the highs and lows are seen from different perspectives. For me, the loss and sadness has been inextricably bound with gain and joy. I mourn the loss of how life use to be when we could gather with friends and be in the world. But there has also been gain with time as a family and deepening connection with farm and home. I’ve been reading Life is in the Transitions by Bruce Feiler, a book that came out at the beginning of the global transition to an unknown future. The book is a guide through the transitions in life that come more quickly and last longer than we would probably like. Sometime, the big shifts in life come voluntarily, but most of the time, it is involuntary, and it is these big changes that make up the fabric of our lives. This year, I’m glad to add peacocks to my life tapestry and the lore of my family. We have also a new tradition born from our transition. Every Saturday evening, we gather on the patio for “aperitif” (also inspired by The Chateau Diaries). We have a glass of pink wine and some “sexy cheese” or other special foods and enjoy the end of the week. We enjoy the planning as much as the eating, a mini-celebration of life and joy which has been the highlight of our summer and will sure to continue on for many years. Peacocks and aperitif are part of the new colors of our life that we will remember as part of life in transition.