From My Tuscan Window

Chapter 59
Daria’s Rooster
One of the pleasures of sleeping or taking naps in Casa Rosina is hearing Daria’s rooster crow. Like her mother Emanuela before her, Daria carries on the tradition of raising chickens for both eggs and food. Humans and chickens have lived together for thousands of years longer than humans and radios and televisions, and so the clucking of the hens and the crowing of the rooster are like music to my ears.

My father was born on a chicken ranch in Missouri in 1911. I raised two pet roosters in Huntsville in the 1950s but had to send them to my uncle’s farm when the neighbors complained about them crowing. Now, Sue has free-range chickens on her ranch in Texas that produce eggs for us to eat, if we can find where the hens have hidden them.

The one thing that I have never gotten used to is the killing of chickens-- which are to me the same as pet dogs or cats—since I grow attached to any animal that I have raised or associated with.

One of the jobs I hated most as a child was chasing the bodies of the headless chickens after my father had decapitated them, so when Daria threatens to kill her rooster because she fears it may be bothering me with its crowing, I say, “No, per piacere, lascia vivere il gallo. Mi piace il suo canto.” (No, please, let the rooster live. I like his singing.)

My pleas don’t deter Daria from insisting that I am only saying that to please her, because the other forestieri who have a house in our neighborhood hate to hear her rooster crow as they say it disturbs their rest. Therefore, I have to argue with her every year when we first arrive, to once again assure her that I want her rooster to live, at least until the other forestieri arrive, (which I hope doesn’t happen until after our departure). It makes me sad to see Daria plucking the feathers off of her dead rooster and to see its blood draining out on the courtyard floor. The absence of the rooster’s song also makes me sad.

This year, she was particularly insistent that the rooster must really be bothering me and thus must die. At the time, I was standing with her in the fenced-in terrace of the ancient stone house, when the rooster happened to come in from the orto (garden). Daria’s terrace is home to her chickens and rabbits, and it is adjacent to that of Casa Giorgio where Sue hangs out the laundry to dry. I was about to pet the rooster when Daria warned me that it was quite aggressive. To prove her point, she showed me a scar on her leg that the rooster had made

I think part of her zeal to kill this year’s rooster is based on his bad behavior toward her. I said, “Va bene, il gallo merita la pena di morte, ma è necessario che viva fino alla nostra partenza, perchè voglio sentire il suo canto.” (“Okay, the rooster deserves the death penalty, but it is necessary that he lives until our departure, because I want to hear his song.”)

Daria was satisfied with that explanation, and so unless the other foreigners arrive before our departure, I will be able to enjoy the rooster’s song. Next year, of course, there will be a new one that I will attempt to save from the ax. And as with every rooster in the past, Daria is sure to insist that “il canto del gallo” must be disturbing me and that she should kill the rooster so that I can rest better. “No, Daria, mi piace il canto del gallo.” (“No, Daria, I like the song of the rooster.”)

Revised March 3, 2008
Copyright 2005-2006 George H. Russell
Previous Chapter
Back to the Table of Contents
Next Chapter