My husband came home yesterday with a bag containing three dead birds, a gift from someone. They were small and grey, and so soft that I was afraid to touch them. I had never done a "bird prep" before, from start to finish, so this was a good opportunity for me to learn, nausea be damned.
So we sat at the kitchen table, my grandmother, my mother and myself, and plucked the feathers, cleaned the innards, burned the leftover down over the barbecue flame, and cooked the three birds today. One of them I made into a small soup, the best, gentlest soup that I had made in a long long time. I simmered it with an onion, one parsnip, two carrots and one potato, for about an hour and a half, then I strained it and boiled some fusili pasta in the water. It was delicious. We each had a bowl, even Emma, who does not care much for food lately unless it is broiled chicken.
The whole experience was strange but it felt very honest to me. To eat a chicken that was killed and plucked and cut up into pieces by someone else does not allow for the awareness of the fact that one is eating an animal that died. To clean the birds and find sand in their feathers, and small red fruit in their mouths, and seeds in the gizzards, it is to see that these birds were interrupted from their lives and that their bodies were not meant just for my supper, but rather for themselves to live and enjoy their days. Something that my supper has interfered with.
I think it is one of life's painful truths that for me to exist, something else must die. It is a very uncomfortable truth because it makes me face the question: what did I do with my life to deserve this? How do I justify my place in this world?
Finally, for me, I decided that I don't need to deserve or to justify, I just am. However, it helps to tread lightly and with respect on this Earth. In my case today, treading lightly means cooking the birds really well and eating every last bit of them with gratitude.