In The Egg and I, Betty McDonald tells laughingly of her neighbour, Ma Kettle, raising chicks in the kitchen.
Well, I am Ma Kettle. I've always raised my chicks in the living room, because it's the only place that stays warm enough consistently. As it turns out, though, I'm taking that approach to a whole new level by raising ducklings in the living room.
They're only a week old, but Christ, do they love water. This fact was pointed out to me by Sir Permaculturing some time ago, but it only hit home when I saw them in action. It does not bode well for furnishings, soft or hard.
But it's good for the waterfowl.
Without anthropormorphising them, I think it's fair to say that you can tell when an animal is in its element. Believe me, if you had ducklings squeaking in straw not a metre from where you sit to work each day, you'd agree. The enthusiasm, the group effort, the social carry-on. It's delightful.
But we are animals too. How can we tell when a human's in its element? We don't run past with frogs in our mouths, like my hens. We don't play head-butting games like my goats. And we don't splash endlessly in water like the ducks.
So, how? How can we tell when we are in our element?
Are you in your element?
It's an open question, but I hope, for all our sakes, we have some answers.