Loretta Henderson The Chicken
I would like to introduce Loretta The Chicken. This is her debut. She is an accomplished athlete. She is a triathelete she swims, runs and bikes. She is an ambitious bird with lofty goals and she mentioned that she would like to be the official bike around the world mascot. She is a successful bird that Shiny the character in the following story would be very proud of. A special thanks to Jeff Henderson for the photo of his heroic bird Loretta Henderson The Chicken.
As I sit listening to the river cascading over sand white rocks into a crystal blue pool of reflection I smile and wonder if this day really happened. Last night I met Marc a local mountain biker and after visiting over a map we decided come early this morning to head out of town together then Marc would circle back into town after about 10km(6.6miles) and I would carry on. We peddle out of town, opened a farmer’s gate and headed to a road known only to locals, a manageable rocky dirt track that climbs for 50 km(33miles) towards a saddle. I was unsure what exactly a saddle was but was soon to find out it means peddling through three river crossings and carrying your bike and belongings over a rickety metal suspension bridge that stretches over a very deep canyon. The suspension bridge is narrow and weathered and really shouldn’t be navigated by anything bigger than an anorexic chicken. The path then continues on descending down a dirt road over many rocks through a long old growth beech forest and emerges many hours later in a mountain pass back on the main road.
After having spent the morning navigating the saddle I emerged on the main road and began peddling for the rest of the day to my final destination of some hidden river hot spring pools. I am grateful to Marc for adding beautiful backcountry adventure roads throughout my hand drawn South Island map. It will be dirt farmer’s roads and swing bridges when I can find them from here on in.
Up ahead on the road as I peddled into the late afternoon I notice a small pickup truck has stopped. As I approached a man bounces out of the truck and I am greeted by a shining toothless grin and a very loud hi y’a. I suspected that this man was short on hearing and teeth although large on heart and innocence. The shine and energy from the man’s grinning toothless face had enough wattage to illuminate a stadium. Turns out Shiny, my loud talk’in new visitor had been driving for hours, hadn’t seen much traffic, was a wee bit lonesome and wanted to chat.
I have been travelling without a book to read for some time and I have never been one to pass up a good hearted character so I parked the bicycle and fastened my seat belt to enjoy his story. Shiny was concerned about the relationship between our birds cats, dogs. Shiny feared that because birds don’t make any money that our planet would be fresh out of birds in the next 100 years. And that it was a sad fact that if you don’t make any money on this planet nobody cares about you. Too many cats and dogs and how much people care about them were compounding the bird problem. Nobody caring about birds and caring of only cats and dogs had Shiny noticeably worried. The threatened extinction of the entire bird population due to their lack of purposeful employment had definitely been on Shiny’s mind for some time.
At some point while Shiny was humorously babbling his way to Babylon, Shiny took a look over into an expansive empty field. He then told me he believed in home killed meats because they taste better. Killing at home is less stressful for the animal. The animal produces less adrenalin and therefore makes for a better tasting meal. He pointed towards a bloody carcass of some sort that was hanging upside down from the raised rusty bucket of a front end loader. Freshly killed, skinned and richly dripping of bloody humanity. Umm, umm good!
Shiny chatted on about New Zealand being a peaceful land without any predators. He told me there are no bears, alligators, crocodiles, poisonous snakes and very few spiders. The livestock animals are not native species and have been imported. The first flock of sheep was imported in 1800. White tail and black tail deer and a couple of Moose and elk from Canada were brought here after that. Shiny thought that there may have been a predator in the early years of settlement that ate a human once but it was a giant dinosaur bird that was now extinct.
Shiny continued that the rivers are clean of pollutants, drinkable and the people are as kind and trusting as people get. The national symbol is a bird, The Kiwi. The Kiwi can’t fly and is rare and protected throughout the country. A bird is an appropriate symbol for a country that has more species of birds then anything other critter or creature.
It was nice to see Shiny the man concerned about the birds glow with such pride of his national bird, the Kiwi, purposefully employed holding the very dignified position of national symbol. The sun began to set and there wasn’t a chance that I was going to find the hot springs today but it doesn’t matter because Shiny and his illuminated tale was much more refreshing then a mineral bath.
Posted by Loretta Henderson