????????????????????????????????????????The other day I gave my old chicken paraphernalia to Betsy, who has a bunch of hens in a backyard coop. Goodbye to the feeder and the waterer and the chain link fencing. Goodbye to the idea that I will raise chickens again in this lifetime.

Let me be clear – this is not a sacrifice. I have no desire to care for chickens right now. I don’t have the time, and if I did, I can think of other things I would rather do. I’ve beem calling this the Post-Nurturance phase of life, but that’s not really accurate. I just have other things to nurture, like my business, my relationships, and yes, myself.

I kept chickens for years when the boys were young. It was a pleasure perusing the fancy breeds in the Murray McMurray catalogue and rushing to the post office when the cheeping box of chicks arrived. The chickens’ gentle clucking and feathery maternal warmth were quite soothing, and their distinct personalities and sorority squabbles were a constant source of entertainment.

It was a project the kids and I undertook together. I remember walking with Patrick to the coop to shut the chickens in on many a winter night, our feet crunching through the crusty snow and the sky above us spangled with stars. It taught the boys about caring for life, and also about death. None of us will forget the massacre, when a pack of dogs left eviscerated bodies strewn all over the yard, or the time our neighbor Pierre lead us calmly and skillfully through the execution and plucking of four renegade roosters.

By the time we moved to the Cape, though, I was ready for a break. When the last four chickens disappeared into the underbrush and didn’t come back, I was only briefly sorry.

Still, in letting go of the gear, I felt the momentary tightening that often occurs at such times. It happens when our impulse to let go of something meets the anxious thought, I might not need this thing NOW, but what if I need it in the future??? And there’s another part, which is letting go of the past, of who we used to be.

One of the benefits of getting older is that the future no longer seems infinite, so it’s easier to see through all that. We know there isn’t a whole lot of time left, so we stop trying to hang onto every possible future option and direct our energy towards the things that mean most to us now.

And if, in the future, that turns out to be chickens, I can always get some more stuff.