By Christine Tailer
I know that the original Pied Piper lived during the Middle Ages in Lower Saxony, Germany, and that he was credited with playing his flute and luring the town’s rats to the river, saving the town’s people from suffering the plague.
Well, we do not have any rats down at the creek, or at least none that I have seen, and I doubt that the plague is a creek valley threat, but we do have a pied piper, of sorts.
Our creek valley pied piper does not wear the multi-colored, or “pied” costume of the original piper, and he does not sport pointed-toed tasseled shoes. Our creek valley piper is more apt to wear faded jeans and rubber boots, and he does not wear a feathered cap on his head. He rather wears a camouflage hat from the nearby tractor store.
And rather than luring rats, our creek valley piper has the mystical ability to lure 30 or so free range chickens. Each morning, as he steps out into the yard, the multi-colored birds flock from every which direction and gather expectantly around his feet. As he moves across the yard to do his morning chores, the feathered tide obligingly parts to let him pass. I watch from the kitchen window as I finish up the breakfast dishes.
His first stop is usually the at pigeon gazebo, where he waters the white birds and then opens the top door so the pigeons can gather on the front platform and take off, as a white squadron, for their first flight of the day. The chickens mill about the gazebo, never far from the piper’s booted feet, following his every move like an undulating, feathered shadow.
I still watch, even though the morning dishes are done, and stand at the kitchen window enjoying the piper’s chicken show. He heads up to the former outhouse, now turned into animal feed shed, the birds close at his heels. They all face toward him, spread out in a semi-circle, as he opens the crescent moon door, and removes the galvanized steel lid to the scratch grain can. He scoops out a small bucket of pure chicken delight and turns toward the waiting birds.
I watch as the grains arc through the air and scatter across the ground behind the gathered throng. In unison, their little chicken heads follow the arc, and only as the grains scatter across the ground, does the flock likewise scatter, and turn away from the piper to peck here and there at their much anticipated morning treat.
Now the creek valley piper does not play a flute to lure the birds, but he does share another similarity with the Pied Piper of Lower Saxony. Just this morning, as the chickens followed and flowed around him as he crossed the yard, I distinctly heard him singing Christmas carols, and it’s still two weeks until Thanksgiving.
But now that I think of it, my creek valley piper not only shares a similarity with the Pied Piper of yore, he also shares a very distinct similarity, with that ever-so-modern big box store. The holidays are upon us!