That’s what Renoir said in his last years as his arthritic hands pained him while he painted beautiful nudes sunbathing on the stunning Southern French landscape. Beauty persists.
Rosey is beautiful. She came to me with no feathers. Her warm, pink skin wrapped around tiny wings and spots of feathers just here and there. Her feet huge, her face small she looked more like a tiny prehistoric creature than a modern day baby chicken as she darted about her tub at the Grange. I saw her and fell in love. The clerk told me she had “egg scalding” which means her baby feathers got stuck on her shell when she first emerged to the light of a new life. I murmured that I did not know why but to me she was beautiful. The clerk smiled a radiance like the sun rose in her and said, “me too.”
Rosey came home with me. She sat in my lap in the car and all I could do was stare at her. I’ve seen the Mona Lisa and while it was a good effort, it’s no Rosey.
Now two months later Rosey has most of her big chicken feathers. She has crimson and blue, deep green and brownish orange that all disappear into black until the light hits her. Like most things, if you did not take the time to look you would never see the natural selection that brought her to this level of color that only nature could make so lovely and so subtle.
Chickens are rarely discussed in aesthetic circles. More often you will hear them talked about as “dual purpose” or “layers” or even “boilers”. For me Rosey is so much more than any of those things. In fact, she serves none of those purposes and I’m sentimental enough to admit I’d never cook up my muse or really anyone. She is meditation partner, comedian, life coach and coop group leader. She is also the beauty which persists.
Sitting on the floor with her napping by my knee, toes curled like hands in prayer, tummy exposed, eyes about twelve shades of green, beak a warm acorn brown she is beauty and warmth, love and power.
There is no aesthetic complete without love. To deny it is a shallow and lonely existence. To believe oneself somehow more rational without it is to subscribe to willful ignorance. Communal animals such as we are created quite specifically for love, without it we die. To claim that sentiment toward any other living thing is somehow unscientific is to entirely miss the point and scientifically is precisely off point.
There are twice as many chickens on earth as people. The majority are not loved. Beyond the environmental destruction of factory farms there is a loss of community and the possibility of loving another creature so different from us, yet so alike. The pain passes but beauty persists, even if you cannot see it.