Monday, January 19, 2009

1/22/09 The Story of Vanilla, the Chicken

This is a story of love, of forgiveness and redemption, of realizing that what you were looking for was right in your own back yard all along.

Vanilla, the chicken, lived a simple life with the Torrences on Howard Street. Hers was a life of food, attention, and owners who spent hours providing care. And yet, she yearned for something more. She went looking for a life less ordinary: a life of adventure and romance beyond the confines of her back yard. So she left her flock, left Walnut and Corn who warned her not to go, and began her great adventure.

We can only speculate on where she went and who she met along her journey. There were periodic sightings of her- there were phone calls to the Torrences reporting a “large white chicken” pecking in front yards, but she was elusive. She was fast and wily. Eve Torrence and Lorie Foley would look for her, calling out, “Vanilla! Vanilla!” as they walked the streets. They thought that maybe she had taken up with another flock, but the Herberts hadn’t seen her. They thought that maybe she had joined the gang of feral chickens that lives behind Town Hall, but she was not there either.

The Torrences called Animal Control, but were told that no one had brought in any stray chickens “since 4 o’clock” that day. Their hope was running out, and the idea of Vanilla ever returning home began to fade. How could a chicken survive for over a week on her own? Think of all the predators- the dogs, foxes, and raccoons who would have drooled over a fat chicken. Christmas morning came, and as the Torrences struggled to smile while opening their presents, the phone rang. It was Frank Hargrove who said that Vanilla was in his yard, on top of his trash can! Bruce, Eve, Alexandra, and Robert all ran down the sidewalk in their pj’s, and scooped up Vanilla. They triumphantly carried her home, told her that they loved her, and promptly forgave her wandering ways. It was, of course, a Christmas miracle. Vanilla is home now, safe in her backyard with her wings clipped. We hope that she learned a valuable lesson.

And this is why there is no reason on earth to ever leave Ashland.

Congratulations to Dave Klisz & Tom Grant who finished the Swinging Bridge 50K Trail Race this past weekend! That is not a typo- 50 kilometers. That’s almost 32 miles. That’s running all day, through the woods, over creeks; in freezing temperatures, no less. Unbelievable! I am truly in awe at their stamina and determination. You can watch Dave's video at

Zack Robbins has informed me that the Planning Department of the Town of Ashland is very busy these days and has many meetings scheduled for February. Be on the lookout for those dates, and think about what you think our town needs. Maybe a homeless chicken shelter…

Here’s your chance to come and party with those wild Catholics at St. Ann’s Casino Night on Saturday, February 7th. There will be delicious food, fabulous items and events up for auction, childcare, and – the best part- fake gambling in the parish hall! What more could you want? Please call the church office for more information and to purchase your tickets: 798-5039. You do not have to be catholic to attend. You knew that, right?

Call or email me with your Ashland news, love letters, and book reports. You can reach me at, or 804-310-5320. Have a wonderful week!

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