I couldn't have been more than five or six years old that Easter. Going to my grandparent’s farm for the holidays wrapped the seasons in a holy mantle to my wondering eyes, and that wonder has never left me, even after a lifetime. It was the first Easter that I became aware that the barnyard would be filled with baby chicks. My grandparents fasted during Lent, and traditionally they abstained from eating any animal flesh or products, including eggs. And being farmers with a large flock of chickens, that meant a lot of eggs would spoil during the forty days before they would once more grace our table as part of our Easter feast. So, my grandmother left the eggs for the hens to set and hatch out a whole new crop of baby chicks, and the barnyard would be filled with the incessant peeping and scrambling bits of yellow fluff and flurry. I couldn't wait to get to the farm and wade into the melee. I promptly plopped down in the middle of the yard and waited. A handful of ground corn soon brought the mama hens to peck and pick from my outstretched hand, and soon the babies followed. Emboldened by their mamas, they were soon scrambling all over my legs and lap, their tiny biddy feet tickled my bare legs and their warm, downy bodies felt like a prayer whispering against my skin.
It’s been many years since I sat covered in biddies in that old barnyard, the barns and sheds tumbled down now and daylight streaming through unpatched roofs, the yard silent and empty except for weeds and brambles that have taken over. But I still feel my heart swell with childlike wonder and delight when Easter approaches, and there are little baby chicks everywhere!