I Suspect Fowl Play

Let’s get the bad news out of the way, right off the top: Ed is dead.

I am devastated. Ed came into my life unexpectedly, last Thanksgiving. The fact that he showed up at my house when he did was astonishing, so much so that I devoted my entire column to his unconventional and dramatic entrance. (With the Grain, November 30, 2021)

Even more remarkably, once he was here, Ed showed little inclination to moving on. He seemed to really like our community, even though nothing in our surrounds would make you think that he would be drawn to us.

Ed seemed happy here.

Through the weeks, Ed and I carved out a strong interpersonal relationship. We greeted each other each morning. Most days, I’d invite Ed to join me for lunch on my back deck. Without fail, day in and day out, Ed stopped outside the window of my home office, just to poke his head against the pane to say hello.

Well, he didn’t really “say” hello, I guess. He communicated nonverbally. He used a series of body displays and gestures, yet it wasn’t difficult to figure out what Ed wanted to convey.

Trust me, I wanted to talk with Ed. I wanted desperately to know what was on his mind. However, as much as I searched, I could never find anyone offering a “Peacock as a second language” course.

That’s right, Ed is a peacock. Was a peacock.

On Easter morning, neighbors found in their back yard, evidence of a Herculean struggle for life or death. Green and gold feathers, adorned with the traditional eye-spot pattern lay strewn around the battlefield, and when they discovered a pile of beautiful indigo feathers –– the feathers that festooned Ed’s elongated neck –– it was obvious that Ed was no more.

Rest in pieces, my friend.

Further exploration indicates that Ed was outfoxed by, well … by a fox.

We do have a female fox in the neighborhood, and she’s raising a skulk of kits. True, she’s the biggest fox I’ve ever seen –– easily the size of my neighbor’s Dalmatian. Yet, I never thought she’d go after Ed.

Ed was too big, I thought. Too flamboyant. His crowned head towered over the hood of my car, and I’m not sure I could get my arms around Ed’s corpulent body, even if I had tried. And I didn’t try. Ed was certainly not a cuddler. He stayed aloof, brandishing human hand-sized talons to ward off those of us who ventured too close.

Yet, Ed never bothered anyone. Well, we do have one neighbor who hoped somehow Ed would go away. I grant you, having Ed around your yard could be quite messy. It was a lot like owning a feathered St. Bernard.

Nevertheless, to most, Ed evoked joy not irritation.

There is something spiritual about having a peacock. He arrived on Thanksgiving, during a year when I wasn’t particularly grateful. He departed on Easter, when I needed reminding of the meaning of new life.

Early Christians, in fact, considered the peacock to be the symbol of the resurrection. Many Asians consider it the symbol of rejuvenation.

I called the peacock Ed, because the only other person that I knew with a peacock was a farmer named Ed. Ironically, Ed — the farmer –– passed away one week before Ed –– the bird –– showed up in my driveway. Makes one think, doesn’t it?

I really loved telling people that I had a peacock, not that he was ever mine. He belonged to all of us, maybe to even something greater than us.

The children in the neighborhood called the peacock “Blue,” because of his bright blue feathers. His death has been particularly hard on the kids. For most, this is their first experience. Together, we stood around Ed’s grave in an impromptu funeral ceremony.

The children wanted it. I’m glad they did. It helps us all understand life.

The kids placed spring flowers of violets and cherry blossoms on the soft dirt, and they asked me to say a few words. I’ve done a few eulogies through the years, but never for a peacock. I decided to end the service with a familiar hymn.

All things bright and beautiful

All creatures great and small

All things wise and wonderful

‘Twas God that made them all

– John O. Marlowe is an award-winning columnist for Sagamore News Media.