“No you can’t have the red thermos, Nebraska, that’s my lucky thermos.”
“But, my sweet hen, it brings me luck when I’m on an archeological dig, you know that.”
“Yes my dear rooster, but I will be joining you for this dig, and so I will need my thermos. You should know that.”
Nebraska sighed and then broke into a clucking laugh. Dang I love that hen, he thought. He handed her the thermos and they went back to packing. It had been two days since they received notice that their permit from the nation of Lithuania for the dig had been approved. It was six months before that they had submitted their request for a permit. It was a year before that they had finally deciphered the elder code on the map which they had acquired from an ancient mariner – a salty old seal – in a sea-port while on vacation along the coast of the Baltic Sea.
They left early the next morning, flying first to New York, then on to Amsterdam, then a short hop to Copenhagen, then on to Riga, Latvia, where they waited another two days for their baggage to catch up with them before they hired a driver and drove the rest of the way into Lithuania.
“Ah, spring,” said Nebraska a little too dramatically. “So green. So super green.”
Crimson Hen’s beak was deeply buried in an ancient-looking atlas. “Mm-hmm,” she intoned automatically, “super green, indeed.”
“You know Crim” Nebraska said lightly, still looking across the wide green rolling hills of the ancient countryside. “This is kind of like another vacation, except this time the university is picking up the tab.”
Crimson Hen said nothing. The hillsides rolled by, finally disappearing into a flat, lightly wooded area.
The driver, a little quiet sheep, cleared their throat and coughed politely. “Hem, hem.” Their English was halting. “This . . . ah . . . where . . . you go?”
Crimson Hen and Nebraska Rooster both looked up from their reveries. Crimson brought out a compass and Nebraska checked his GPS. “Yes,” they said in unison.
Later that night, when the two chickens were setting up camp next to a low rise that punctuated the otherwise flat countryside, Nebraska took a moment to look at the little hill and said, “the map was right, there is definitely something here.”
Crimson came up next to him and looked out on the hillock. “Yes,” she agreed. “There is definitely something here. Let’s turn in early so we can get cracking at it at first light.” Nebraska nodded and they both moved to their waiting tent.
It was two weeks before they came to anything that wasn’t dirt. Archeology is slow, painstaking work, and it was many days that Crimson Hen wanted to just take the shovel and go at it. But Nebraska Rooster was a consummate professional. He made sure each shovelful was sifted and carefully cataloged.
On one such afternoon, Crimson was exasperated for the millionth time, and Nebraska said, again for the millionth time, “Now Crim, I know you’re used to action and saving the world and whatnot, but this is my work, it’s important, please be patient . . .” Right at that moment, Cinnamon’s shovel struck something solid.
“Hey!” Nebraska shouted. “You should be shoveling softer, don’t hit it again, you might damage whatever it is!”
They spent the next two days brushing a four inch square section of what looked like a pretty simple wall.
“But Crim, you can’t rush this!”
“It’s a wall, dang it, we’ve been out here for weeks, and have finally found something and you want to excavate it with a toothpick and a paintbrush. Let’s clear the dirt away already!”
“Don’t ‘but Crim’ me. Tomorrow, I will take up my shovel, and by God, I’ll show you how to use one of these things.” As if to punctuate her point, Crimson Hen raised her shovel and brandished it above her head.
Nebraska sighed. There wasn’t much changing Crimson Hen’s mind when she was determined about something. And true to her word, she was up and out of the tent clearing dirt away by the shovelful the next day before the morning coffee was even on the flame.
“See, my lovely rooster, there is just more wall here.” She had cleared away a five foot square section of the wall.
Nebraska frowned at her, but looked at the wall more closely. “Crim, look at this.”
“What is it?”
“Look here at the wall, what do you see?”
Crimson Hen regarded Nebraska Rooster with skepticism, but finally took a closer look anyway just to humor him. “Well, it’s gray. It’s a wall. It’s made of something hard.”
“Right, but how old is this supposed to be?”
“Um, I guess the map indicated it was from the elder days of the druids. In this area, that would put it at around two to two and a half thousand years ago.”
“Right, and what would anyone around at that time have had to build with?”
“Um, right. Stone I guess.”
“And does this look like stone?”
Comprehension dawned in Crimison Hen’s bright eyes. “Of course! This isn’t stone at all. It’s . . . it’s not even concrete!”
“Right, then what the hey-ho is it?”
“I . . . I don’t know.”
“Neither do I, my hen, neither do I.”