To save our biographers the trouble of exhaustive research and speculation, here is where I explain how we came to build and burn giant wooden creatures in our field each year while throwing a great party and confounding the locals.
Many years ago, I was pregnant with the twins but didn’t know it. We had just purchased, after considerable finagling, a 45-acre property outside of Ithaca, NY. Mr Fantastic was at that time employed as a prosthetist- look it up, I assure you that unlike the term that may pop to mind, it is entirely legal and involves prosthetic limbs for their intended purposes only. Also I don’t think it pays anything like the illegal thing you may be thinking of. A-hem. So, there he was, Mr. Fantastic, driving around to various amputees in the upstate New York counties of Tompkins, Cortland, Tioga and suchlike, when the man had a vision.
Among the cornfields, poor radio choices, and prosthetic limbs rattling around in the trunk, an idea came to him. Ignorant of his future- which included twin daughters, losing his job, and somehow, eventually, a sailboat- he pondered the large field, the one which we had of late become owners. We had camped on that field recently with young Fiercely and baby Cleverly. It was a big field. The kind that brings to mind large outdoor parties to which we had become accustomed since living in Ithaca. He also considered our chickens, and the Burning Man Festival. These ideas came together to produce our annual Burning Chicken Festival, a weekend-long party where we build and of course burn a large wooden creation.
The first several years, we cajoled friends into helping us build the cabin during a kind of work- party weekend. There was much messy work with the straw bales, the mudding of walls, and the herding of children. The first year, we found ourselves with oddly shaped wood scraps which a friend and master carpenter cleverly fashioned into a chicken shape. It was about 25 feet tall. It burned beautifully there in the field with a crowd of marshmallow-stick wielding children and their grown-ups. Thus went Burning Chicken I.
Cicada, 2013, in honor of the 17-year cicadas that were about that summer
As the years went by, the cabin became mostly finished so the weekend was just about building and burning the beast. After a lengthy discussion about just what to build, of course. The cicada idea just lent itself in 2013 since all summer we had been seeing the 17-year cicadas do their thing. And who doesn’t want to build a giant wooden cicada?The horse happened in the Chinese Year of the Horse. The squid was just a challenge people couldn’t turn down in 2012. And this year, the kids chose a bear. It was fitting since our neighbor had seen a four-member bear family that spring in his front yard.
So that, my friends, is the story of Burning Chicken. What will we build next year? It’s anybody’s guess. It will be the big tenth year, so the idea has been floated to burn another chicken. It will also hopefully be our send-off for the RTW trip so perhaps that will suggest a creature. Stay tuned!!!
Leaping frog catching a dragonfly, 2010