When we arrived, I was distracted by a flurry of activity around the entrance to the shop. Jochi, the chef, was sitting on one of the crates, which are used as rustic-looking seats, holding a fluffy white hen in his arms and rocking her soothingly. A couple of dogs were scurrying around underfoot, among them a small Jack Russell, who seemed very excited.
“What’s wrong with the chicken?” I asked, intrigued.
“She was attacked by the dog,” he replied, indicating the little terrier. “I’m trying to calm her down.”
“So what exactly are you doing?” I inquired, not having seen anyone hugging a chicken before!
“I’m pushing her head under her wing, because that’s how chickens sleep, and rocking her like this puts her into a trance and calms her down,” he explained patiently.
Amazing. I’d never seen anyone do that before!
We went inside the shop to check out the available lunches. We settled on two portions of quiche and salad, as they looked particularly tasty. Then we found ourselves a table, out of the blustery wind. The South Easter in Cape Town may be great for blowing all the air pollution out to sea, but it also blows around all the hayfever-inducing pollen and dust, so after a couple of days of it, I’ve had enough of the freakin’ wind!
As we sat at our table, chatting and thoroughly enjoying our delicious, healthy and filling lunch, the fluffy white hen came closer to us. She seemed a bit anxious, evidently still on the alert for the dog that had chased her. Some of her feathers looked a bit ruffled. She was clucking to herself, making the most adorable little ‘cluck… cluck… cluck-cluck… cluck-cluck’ sound I’d ever heard! (In my head, I promptly nicknamed her ‘Clucky’.)
I’d always known that chickens were capable of experiencing and expressing emotions, such as fear and happiness, anxiety and joy, sadness and contentment. But I’d never seen and witnessed it before.
I spoke to Clucky in a soothing voice, sending out happy and peaceful vibes, reassuring her that we’d protect her against the dog. I held out my hand to stroke her, but she was a bit nervous. Mind you, I’d never touched a live chicken before, so I didn’t have much experience on how to go about it!
So I was a little surprised when she actually came closer to hide underneath our table for a while, pecking at the ground and tugging curiously at our shoe laces.
Jochi came by to give her some more rocking therapy, and left her on the big wicker bench, next to my friend. To our delight, Clucky was quite content to stay on the bench, even settling down to preen her feathers. All the while, she was quietly clucking to herself. I even managed to stroke her feathers, which felt amazing!
When we left, Jochi picked her up to leave her on the window sill among the mosaic for a while. She’d be safe there, and she looked quite pleased at having such a pretty perch.
And that is why I love coming to this place. There is always something interesting happening here!
P.S. I apologise for the poor quality of these photos, but they were taken on my cellphone.