Posted on Mar 6, 2014 in All Blog Posts, Animals, Calendar, Youtube

“Trying to sneak a fast ball past Hank Aaron is like trying to sneak the sunrise past a rooster.”

Joe Adcock

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 “Spring forward, fall back” is the memory trick we use for re-setting our clocks in order to capture the gift of daylight savings.  Who doesn’t appreciate an extra hour of sunshine in which to frolic and play?  Yet we pay a price to shed our hibernating ways, as we begrudgingly crawl from the cozy comfort of our snuggly beds.  One steadfast harbinger who can rouse us literally like clockwork?  The lusty rooster, trilling and screeching,  until we have no choice but to rise.

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A favorite image throughout the ages, the rooster has been depicted by numerous textile artists including Tammis Keefe, Jeanne Miller, Pat Prichard, Anne Samstag, Faith Austin, Billie Kompa and others.  A favored image for cocktail napkins, I can only assume the connection stems from a play on the word ‘cocktail,’ since I can’t think of many who wish to imbibe at sunup.

Legends about the rooster abound, including its use as a religious symbol during the Middle Ages.  One story opines the crowing at dawn symbolized the triumph of light over darkness, of good over evil, and became an emblem of Christian watchfulness for the return of Christ.  This may be why so many rooster images are found on churches in Europe.   During the French revolution, activists rejected the Christian origin, instead attributing the image to the ancient Gauls.  This Gallic rooster, referred to as Chanticleer became an emblem for the Third French Republic.

 

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During WWI, the image of a rooster was adopted as an allegory of French courage and can be found on many war memorials.  Post war, the Elysée Palace had a grille decorated with the rooster, the ‘grille du coq’ which still exists today.

Chaucer’s description of Chanticleer in his Canterbury Tales (The Nun’s Priest Tale) reads “For crowing there was not his equal in all the land.  He voice was merrier than the merry organ that plays in church, and his crowing from his resting place was more trustworthy than a clock.  His comb was redder than fine coral and turreted like a castle wall, his bill was black and shone like a jet, and his legs and toes were like azure.  His nails were whiter than the lily and his feathers were like burnished gold.” Whew.  Take that, Anna Wintour!  Here’s a proud Chanticleer worthy of Chaucer’s high praise. Every feathery whisper is brilliantly clear on this crisp white linen.

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....Tammis Keefe strikes just the right note in this backdrop which transitions from the deep gray of pre dawn through the ombre shades of sunrise, as it rolls toward the rooster’s call to Rise and Shine. randyrooster016

 

Two equally striking color palettes showcase a pair of strutting roosters with streamers of flowing tails which flutter behind them like banners in a parade.

 

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More color variations emblazon a rousing quartet, rendered in a mosaic pattern reminiscent of Greco-Roman times.  Whether  a deep olive background with pops of persimmon, royal blue softened with mild moss green, or the deep gold and pale blue of an early sunrise, the artist delivers maximum punch with a minimum of brush strokes, as evidenced in the golden beauty below.  Such a handsome handkerchief.  Note how a mere shift in color alters the mood from vibrant to subdued, playful to sophisticated.

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There’s little doubt who’s in charge here, as these singular sensations take charge of their surroundings.

The cool sophisticate on the left is divinely debonair in his forest of fabulous foliage.  Note how the single tree in brilliant turquoise provides a ‘callback’ to the rooster’s bright plumage.  Uh-oh.  The tousled and untamed bad boy on the right barely made it for morning call, and the multi-directional backdrop confirms he’s still unsure which way to turn.  Such fun to view the variety of artist’s interpretations of this show stopping bird.

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Blow, winds of March, and give a spin of the compass to the ubiquitous weather vane.  A bold navy grid and swirl of feathers render the showstopper on the left up-to-the-minute sassy and hip, while the charming checkerboard of tiny rooftops opposite convey a feeling as cozy as granny’s quilt.

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A morning of antiquing in Connecticut unearths a trove of country anemometers, followed by tea at Aunt Sarah’s  admiring her latest topiary creations.

 

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The whole point of being ‘cock of the walk’, of shaking your tail feathers, is to showcase your brood, your tribe, your posse, who follow your lead and do your bidding.  For the rooster to be ‘manly’ we need to see signs of his manhood –  i.e. plenty of hens and chicks.

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The hankie on the left provides a sea of wild feathers in which the proud cock can prance and parade before he settles in next door to stand guard at the corners of his regulated and orderly hen house.  For the hankie alongside, the choice of brick red against shades of warm and cool olive is oh so fine, don’t you think?

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This north/south/east/west/criss-cross jumble of roosters, hens and chicks feel….well, like home, with babies underfoot and mama running in circles in the center, while papa stands calmly by to survey his domain.  The artist had a ball with this one.  Note how rooster and hen are always facing in the same direction.  Does she scurry along at a fast clip trying to fulfill all his demands?  Or Is he barking orders at her back while she blithely ignores him? What’s your guess?

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To remove all doubt about Who’s In Charge, the plucky rooster struts his plumage to full advantage while the little speckled hens almost fade into the background.

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Known for his swagger and bravado, it’s not so surprising then, to find the feisty bantam chosen as a favorite sports mascot, adopted by both the French National Rugby Union Team and the French National Rugby League Team,  Le Coq Sportif. randyrooster052 randyrooster054

 

We cool things down with bucolic images of roosters foraging in the foliage.  These charming renditions complete with butterflies and floral borders remind me of certain Scandinavian designs,  fresh and friendly.

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What’s the Backstory? The lady on the far right is obviously in great distress. Talk about a bad hair day,  she looks like nine miles of bad road.  Has she unexpectedly run into her rooster beau and his mother on their way to church, after she’s been out partying all night? Oops.  Or has she found her rooster with another hen which has literally made her hair stand on end?  The rooster is also in shock, as his upright comb attests. An entire short story is depicted here.  What’s your interpretation? randyrooster062

 

These charming hand embroidered children’s hankies tell a story of their own. A young lad in short pants and beret has stolen an egg from the chicken coop.  Before he could escape, mama hen is upon him. It looks as though she can handle the situation, but Papa rooster stands at the ready just in case. randyrooster064

 

Which Came First?

It’s always fun to see how different artists interpret the same subject matter. Both artists chose the colors of sunrise, summer and yes, yolks!  Both renditions are simple and sophisticated in their graphic images. I love the prolific chicken posing the eternal question of which came first, the chicken or the egg.  And the image on the right is the first time we’ve experienced the actual feeling of being in the chicken coop.

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The pièce de résistance, the fox in the henhouse! Those lackadaisical hens would do well to sharpen up. The scraps of broken wire confirms the wily predator has gained entry.  One other small giveaway signals what the canny carnivore has been up to. Did you spot it?… The turquoise feathered tongue.  Perfection!  Again, an entire story at your fingertips.

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Epilogue…if you must crow, do it discretely…

One important lesson the rooster imparts, whether viewed from the chef’s kitchen or the CEO’s private jet, no cock is ever too big to get his tail feathers clipped if he isn’t careful….

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Gotta hand it to the little guy, he put up a valiant fight to save his tail.

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Just for fun – Go Mama

randyrooster060 You’d be remiss to save all your kudos for the rooster, however, since without mama on the nest, there would be no clutch of chicks.  Most of us are well aware who does all the work in the hen house!   Just as aphorisms abound about the power behind the throne – i.e. “The hand that rocks the cradle rules the world.” etc., so, too the Rooster and his entourage provide endless fodder for lessons in practical wisdom.

“The cock may crow, but it’s the hen who lays an egg.”

Margaret Thatcher, former Prime Minister of Great Britain

Metaphors abound regarding who “Rules the Roost”

Nest Egg = Sometimes farmers would leave an egg in the nest to encourage a pullet (a young hen) to lay her eggs there.  The terms to build a nest egg referred to putting a small amount by each week, which would eventually grow into substantial savings.

To Feather Your Nest  = originally referred to saving for the future.  Today, many use the term to mean sprucing up their place to make it nicer.

Don’t count your chickens before they hatch = don’t plan on an outcome before it actually happens.  (I once knew a girl who bought the wedding dress in anticipation of a proposal which never came.)

Don’t put all your eggs in one basket = diversify your investments, consider multiple job opportunities, have several friends, etc.

The Industrious Hen

In years past, before farms were run like factories, chickens would have to scratch the ground to obtain a meal of bugs and grain, thus:

Scratching out a living = just getting by. Difficult work with little reward

Chicken feed = meager salary

Faster than a hen on a June bug = quick to respond

Pecking order = the rooster would eat first, then the swifter/stronger hens, then the runts

Feeling like Henny Penny = doing all the work

Up with the chickens = industrious worker who starts early

Walking on eggshells = tread carefully; the situation is sensitive

Don’t put up a squawk = don’t complain

Don’t cackle if you haven’t laid = don’t complain if you haven’t done anything first to solve the situation

Fly the coop = leave the hen house; leave your present situation; take off

The chicken is out of the hen house =decision has been made by default, too late to change

Coming home to roost = if a person treated others poorly or took unfair advantage, when the tables are turned, and misfortune befalls him, it is said his chickens have come home to roost

Empty nest syndrome = when the kids are grown and have left home

Mother hen = nurturing, protective

Stick in your craw = to rankle, to cause resentment

Being chicken =showing cowardice

Tough old bird = stubborn, obdurate (also called hard boiled)

Madder than a wet hen = totally ticked off

Sunny side up = (referring to fried eggs) happy, positive

The Proud Rooster

“One day Cock of the Walk. Next day a feather duster.”

“A hen that struts like a rooster is often invited for dinner.” (Pride goeth before the fall.)

Rooster Games = When men argue rather than solve the problem

Something to crow about = something to be proud of, to brag about

Another rooster in the hen house = a male rival competing for the ladies’ attention

Letting a fox guard the hen house =letting a thief watch your money

Strutting your stuff =showing off

Ruffling your feathers =when something upsets you

Cock sure = supremely confident; convinced you are right

Rule the roost =the person in charge who calls the shots

 

View our video on the rooster HERE

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