She flew the coop

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No sooner had I proudly written the column about the young boy who had named his new pet chicken after me than Ronda the Chicken proved to be as unpredictable as Ronda the writer.

She flew the coop.

It was Karen’s nephew, Joseph, who had christened his chicken “Ronda,” proclaiming that she had earned the name because she had red on her head. Karen called to break the news.

“Ronda,” she said in that woeful voice I know too well. For 25 years, I have heard it when she has something to say that she knows is sad.

Owing to the fact that I’ve had way too much sadness over the past months, my heart hit pause and I held my breath.

“What is it?”

“I don’t know how to tell you this but ...”

“Karen, tell me now.”

“Ronda the Chicken has flown the coop.”

First, my heart relaxed. A chicken flying the coop, albeit one named after me, is not at the top of the list of woes for me. Still, it was a bit sad.

After my initial relief that it wasn’t that somebody was dead or dying, I had to come to terms with the fact that my only namesake had disappeared. Just when I had been thinking of setting up a trust fund for her.

“Ronda’s gone?” I asked quietly, sadly.

“Yes. I’m so sorry, my friend. Joseph just got up one morning, went out into the yard and she was gone. We waited a couple of days to tell you because we thought she might come back. But she didn’t.”

I thought about it for a while. Yes, it’s possible that a hungry coyote could have snatched Ronda the Chicken, but I don’t think so. I think that Ronda the Chicken is a lot like Ronda the writer. She is free-spirited, adventurous and refuses to be tied down. No yard is big enough to hold Ronda the Chicken because a big world awaits, one that is to be explored and enjoyed.

Sure, Ronda the Chicken was willing to partake of Joseph’s hospitality and kindness for a short stay but then the road called. It beckoned to her to see things she hadn’t seen and experience moments that she couldn’t find in a safe backyard. Her gypsy spirit got the best of her.

I know just how Ronda the Chicken feels. No coop is big enough or glamorous enough or luxurious enough to hold captive the gypsy spirit of a renegade.

Ronda the Chicken tried to fit into the flock. She tried to be a normal bird who rises at dawn when the cock crows and, dutifully, beds down early. She tried to pretend that she could be like all the other chicks, but that rebel spirit of hers plucked that plan. Birds of a feather flock together while the others fly off into the blue, open skies.

Mama used to say, “You have to give your little birds wings and let them fly. They can’t stay in the nest forever.”

After I figured out the psyche of Ronda the Chicken, I called Karen back.

“Listen, this is a good thing that Ronda the Chicken has flown the coop. I know we’ll miss her but she is independent and she has a world to explore. We have to support her and be proud. This is exactly what I would expect from any chicken named after me – to fly the coop and refuse to stay in bondage to one small plot of ground. She was born to roam.”

“You’re exactly right,” she agreed. “She’s just like you. She’s a free-spirited bird.”

Precisely. Thank God, Joseph didn’t name a chicken after me that just wanted to stay home and nest. That would have been a travesty.

I’m proud of my namesake. May all her travels be happy and safe. From one free-spirited chick to another.

[Ronda Rich is the best-selling author of “What Southern Women Know About Flirting” and “The Town That Came A-Courtin’.” Her newest book is “What Southern Women Know about Faith.” She lives near Gainesville, Ga. Sign up for her newsletter at]

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