The Feathers that Define You

by Stefani on 8-April-2009

You know there's a lot of talk about how it is harmful the way that city and suburban kids are lacking in wild places. They have no room to roam, no one on one time with the outdoors. It's said that the lack of time outside contributes to obesity, attention disorders and depression. I can see that. 

Every time I think about that "Last Child In the Woods" though I think about just that… woods. I picture dirty kids building forts and secreting things under rocks and chasing fairies.  But we had this experience the other day that made me wonder if there isn't more to it. I wonder if our move away from an agrarian society has robbed us of even more. I wonder if the fact that the majority of kids have so little interaction with animals, save for a cat or dog or sad goldfish in a bowl, isn't detracting from their vision of the world too. 

I imagine farm kids learn an awful lot about life and death, personalities and responsibility and good old fashioned hard work and patience from the animals under their families care. And I'm thinking you probably don't have to go into too many details about the birds and the bees for a farm kid – they've seen it all before. It's a part of their lives and not some strange far off concept. 

I don't mean just the nuts and bolts of the thing either, I mean all the silly, intense, ridiculous ritual that passes between a male and a female – it happens in the animal world too. 

Take the peacocks we met the other day… 

Apparently it is the season of love in the world of the peacock because all the males were quite busy doing their best to look virile and important. Oh they walked tall. They walked proud. They did this funny ruffling dance with their under feathers that made a kind of humming music – a love song of sorts. 


The really interesting part was how the peahens did everything in their power to ignore the men altogether. They would not, no WOULD NOT look at them.


The boys would sway and ruffle and hold up their gaudy plumes and the girls would go on pecking at bugs and ho-humming at the clouds as if nothing at all were amiss. 

BUT it was also very clear that each gal had a man picked out – each had a favorite boy to ignore. He danced and she stuck close by, but refused to look at him. Too funny. 

And then there was this poor fellow. 

Odd Man Out

Everyone was ignoring him, but no one was ignoring him with purpose and passion. Know what I mean? It was sad to watch him dance all alone, no gal doing her best not to notice. 

We sat and discussed the fact that to US this was the most extraordinary male of the bunch – rare and exciting, but to the girls, he was probably just funny looking and strange. 

We talked about how his feathers would be highly prized in some circles, but they were the very things that made him undesirable where it probably mattered to him. We sincerely hoped that some wise young peahen would love him, admire him even, not in spite of who he is, but BECAUSE of who he is. 

My oldest said that whatever hen would love him, she would obviously be the best of the bunch. The white peacock would actually be LUCKY because he would know that whoever loved him, she REALLY loved HIM and not just his feathers. 

I said a little prayer right then and there that he remembers that always – the girl who loves your feathers, just as they are, who can cherish your uniqueness, that's THE ONE. And whatever it is that  makes you different can be a blessing, not a curse – it can be the very thing that leads you to truth. 

Love your feathers, whatever color they may be. 

"People are crying up the rich and variegated plumage of the peacock, 
and he is himself blushing at the sight of his ugly feet." ~Sa'Di
Vintage Chica April 8, 2009 at 8:09 am

Oh Stef…the ducks in our yard have been doing the Spring thing that all animals do too. They boys thought that they were fighting at first, but then we had the same “chat”. The more I am in nature, I know it is the best teacher of all.


Sarah Jackson April 8, 2009 at 8:13 am

aww.Your boy is a very wise boy indeed.

I love the white peacocks. they’re my favorite. Peacocks are actually a popular pet in my neighborhood. It’s not uncommon to run across one while on a bike ride. They also wander the zoo grounds.

We saw our friends’ turkeys this weekend, and oh my gosh. Laugh out loud funny. If you make the tom noise to the alpha tom, he’ll puff up his chest and show his tailfeathers and GOBBLE GOBBLE GOBBLE as if to say “back off from my wimmens!!” We loved it.

Mommyknows April 8, 2009 at 8:28 am

Smart kid!

Sarah April 8, 2009 at 8:29 am

Crying here at work. You always do that to me!

Kristin April 8, 2009 at 8:31 am

I enjoyed the message of your post. We live in the city and dabble in farming. Although we have more land around our house than most, I still have to get out to wilder places. I have to see land that isn’t developed now and then. I crave it. Pristine wilderness humbles humans, and wild animals doin’ there thang’ is the bomb.

Our Green Nest April 8, 2009 at 8:52 am

Aaawww…I feel bad for that white peacock that he didn’t have a gal ignoring him :(…but what a great lesson your boys learned (and they’re right!)!

debbieR April 8, 2009 at 8:53 am

Oh my goodness..this post! THIS POST! Wow,what a lesson. I hope I can remember your beautiful lesson. I have aproblem hanging on to the right words, you all truly have a gift.

P.S. May I ask you where the peacocks are? I would love to show my son.

Stefani April 8, 2009 at 9:01 am

Thanks so much for your kindness Debbie!
The peacocks actually roam the Lufkin Zoo. We stopped there while visiting our Granny last week.
There are several peafolk here though:

Miko's Girl April 8, 2009 at 9:29 am

Sweet! Happy Easter!

Katie April 8, 2009 at 9:32 am

oh this made my heart swell and the tears well up, on many levels. you have raised such amazing boys. thanks for sharing.

Kayla April 8, 2009 at 9:47 am

This was so awesome on so many levels. Thank you again, you are a great mother.

Tara April 8, 2009 at 9:48 am

You show so much tender love to your boys in each post. In ways I wish I displayed to my children and husband. Thank you

Lorilee Kopp April 8, 2009 at 10:16 am

All I can say is I love it here at BlueYonder. You always have a sparkle in the words you write!

Amber April 8, 2009 at 10:30 am

Until I read that quotation, I had never noticed a peacock’s feet. They are sort of ugly. But with feathers like that, who cares?

And my, but your boy is wise. You must be proud to bursting.

Mandy April 8, 2009 at 10:34 am

What a wonderful post (again)! You are so great with words, and your boys are so blessed… an important lesson for us all to remember.

debbieR April 8, 2009 at 10:49 am

thank you very much

Becky Lane April 8, 2009 at 11:02 am

Wise indeed! It’s like the line in that movie about the pregnant teenager that was out not long ago – when her Dad told her that the key to happiness is finding someone who’s seen you at your very worst, and still thinks the sun shines out your, umm, tuschie.

Amy April 8, 2009 at 11:10 am

Such gorgeous photos and such wise words. I love this!

tara April 8, 2009 at 11:42 am

Right On !!

Smart boy 🙂

Hannah April 8, 2009 at 11:56 am

Were you at Mayfield? We love going to see the peacocks there, and yes, I’m always amused by the little soap operas that seem to be playing out among the population. Nice life lesson.

Relyn April 8, 2009 at 12:07 pm

Children always lead us to the most important truths, don’t they? If only people would look harder for the truth – no matter what the feathers.

Diane April 8, 2009 at 12:32 pm


We were just talking about how much easier the birds and bees conversation is for friends that have cows and goats and procreating things around… then it is just something that is part of the everyday and not a secret and strange…

Your boy, he’s the best. To have that figured out at his age — well done. ?

Sam April 8, 2009 at 12:43 pm

God that was beautiful! Brought a tear to my eyes. Your boys are so lucky to have you as their mom, and are such wise, caring little men.

AudreyM April 8, 2009 at 12:44 pm

I grew up on a farm literally in the middle of nowhere and while considered naive on many levels such as not fitting in with this group or that group and not fully understanding the cruelty people can inflict upon one another, I was miles ahead of my classmates on understanding the concept of mating and the rituals there in. Since moving to the city, I found myself longing desperately to return to the middle of nowhere and raising my son there so that he too can view those wonders – how animals interact with one another and how nature is simply that – nature. Personally, I’ve always been one to let my own feathers shine, regardless of their colour. It made me an outcast more than once – but I would take being an outcast over looking like everyone else. Maybe that’s why I love homeschooling so much…

Launa April 8, 2009 at 12:54 pm

Oh! This is exactly what I needed to hear today. You are wise way beyond your years, Stephani.

Karen April 8, 2009 at 1:19 pm

Beautiful and insightful post — lovely 🙂

Valarie Budayr April 8, 2009 at 1:37 pm

Hi Stefani. I love this white peacock. He is so beautiful. We have so many house wrens making homes everywhere and in everything. They too are courting up a storm and a little bit noisy as well. So love is in the air. Thanks for you post today. It’s so lovely.

jessica April 8, 2009 at 2:41 pm

When I was growing up there were peacocks down the street. I loved them. Your son is soooo wise!

Teesa April 8, 2009 at 5:57 pm

That’s so true. I appreciate you sharing, as always.

Dawn April 8, 2009 at 6:25 pm

What a great lesson!
I agree about kids missing out on those little natural lessons that add up to such a crucial part of understanding life and our place in the natural world!
There is only so much that can be learned in story books and documentary films!
Thanks so much for sharing…

Em April 8, 2009 at 7:20 pm

SO cool! Your son is so smart… he gets it from his Mom…

Casey April 8, 2009 at 7:29 pm

That’s a sharp boy you’ve got there. And I love that white peacock.

Barb April 8, 2009 at 7:30 pm

This post brought tears to my eyes for a couple different reasons. It was beautiful–thank you.

Stephanie April 8, 2009 at 8:09 pm

Beautifully put, as usual!

Julie Alvarez April 8, 2009 at 8:31 pm

We could all learn some respect for the differences between us all.
The differences attracts us, right? So, we shouldn’t despise them.

Michelle Price April 8, 2009 at 8:51 pm

What a beautiful story-thanks for sharing!

shea April 8, 2009 at 10:05 pm

Wow that was such a beautiful post.

Fiona April 9, 2009 at 6:34 am

You made me cry with this. You caught me on a day when I’m struggling with my uniqueness, so I really needed this. These are wise words.
I particularly love this:
“And whatever it is that makes you different can be a blessing, not a curse – it can be the very thing that leads you to truth.”
Thank you.

Patty T April 9, 2009 at 7:19 am

I really relate to AudreyM up above in the comments. I ditto her thoughts. Us farm kids weren’t as “cool” as our city cousins that had all the latest toys and video games. Come to find years later they really appreciated what we had and always had fond memories of coming to visit so they could be “wild” out in the country. It really took having my own kids to fully comprehend the gift my parents gave us (and sacrifices) to live in a small town where the jobs didn’t pay like the city jobs. I just wish I could do that for my kids now. I guess they’ll have to be happy with chickens instead of the full array of farm animals. It brought tears to my eyes when I read the part about your son’s thoughts on the white peacock. I bed his momma had some pretty proud feathers to show that day too. What a sweet boy!

Ansley April 9, 2009 at 11:25 am

s, i love this analogy!
beautifully spoken by your boy

Lisa April 9, 2009 at 4:00 pm

So this made me cry just now.

Thimbleina April 10, 2009 at 7:47 am

What a beautiful post, that white peacock is stunning how could they not be falling for him??

Kate April 11, 2009 at 1:39 pm

You’ve made me stop and think a couple times this week. Thank you.

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