We had been living in Wilmington, N.C, for 15 years when we decided to move back north, trading my husband’s southerly clime for my northerly one, from magnolias to maples, hot summers to cold winters, poisonous snakes to stinky skunks. We had been spending our autumns on the Island, loved biking the off-season roads, had made friends, and this move would settle us closer to family. In addition, for the past 10 years, I’d been studying Buddhism and practicing meditation, and Bodhi Path, the Buddhist center in West Tisbury, was uniquely appealing.

When online we saw a house for sale across the street from a friend, we called her and within hours were touring the property, Covid style, through our realtor’s phone. We liked it immediately. When he was showing us the backyard, he laughed and said, “Look, chickens!” He directed his phone towards two chickens ambling along. How sweet, I thought.

In less than 24 hours the deal was done. We called our friend back to learn more about the neighborhood. “You’ll love it,” she said. “More year-round than seasonal. Off the tourist track. Quiet.”

Then she added: “And you’ll get used to the rooster. He’ll wake you up at night, but you’ll learn to just turn over and go back to sleep.”

We arrived in late May. The tulips had come and gone, the giant white and pink rhododendrons were in full bloom and, as promised, we heard the trill of a rooster. By day, we marveled as the rooster led the chickens across our yard, enroute to the luscious compost pile in our other neighbor’s yard. In early evening, they would trace their tiny steps back to their coop. Herschel, our Miniature Schnauzer, ears perked, excitedly barked, as if saying, Look! Look! More things to bark at!

Being Herschel’s walkers, we quickly met other neighbors and their dogs, many puppies, part of the Covid canine boom. I once asked a delivery man if he was okay with dogs as I tried to stop Herschel from jumping on him in delight. The man looked at me bemused and said, “Everyone on Martha’s Vineyard has a dog.”

We were barely unpacked before family and friends traipsed off the ferry. “You’ll need a lot of plates,” my brother told us.We went to Ikea. We started the all-important visitor calendar, with days crossed off for extra sleep. We needed it. Evidently the rooster did not. He specialized in night crowing. We’d wake, remember our neighbor’s words, turn over and fall back asleep. Or not. His owner said he was the best rooster he ever had, that his lusty bellow kept predators at bay. He was sorry the rooster woke us and would be diligent about corralling the brood at night. And if that didn’t work, he’d whip up a tasty dish of Coq au Vin.

At Bodhi Path we strive to increase our compassion for all sentient beings — that includes hens and roosters. We send wishing prayers: May all beings be happy. May they not suffer. May their happiness always be separate from suffering. We’re taught that everyone and everything can be our teacher. Coq au Vin became mine. When he woke me at night, I’d wish him well and thank him for helping me become more compassionate.

Nature being nature, by autumn there was a proliferation of chicks and by winter, hens and a couple of rooster-boys. The parade through our yard became even more resplendent, Coq au Vin prancing proud, his brick-red feathers puffed, followed by the cluck of hens and the cute little baby crows of the boys. Nature also being nature, those Covid pups also grew. One fateful day, one caught a hen and killed it. No longer were dog barks innocent. At the slightest bark of a dog, instead of heading home to roost, Coq au Vin and his family took to sleeping in the trees. This afforded us a close-up serenade. In bed we now just tossed and turned. We knew if we just said the word, Coq au Vin would be doused with red wine.

Everything changes all the time. The day came when the sleep of two humans eclipsed the life of one rooster. The text was sent. An immediate text came back, and Coq au Vin’s fate was sealed. That same afternoon the neighbor with the compost pile asked us if we too were losing sleep, if the nightly hen parties in the treetops were, well, over the top. I marveled at the coincidence, found relief that it wasn’t just me, understanding that at any time there are a myriad of decisions being made by a myriad of sentient beings fueled by a myriad of circumstances.

Now the chickens no longer roam the neighborhood. Coq au Vin didn’t become stew. He moved to a farm where he can crow to his hearts content. One of the boy roosters was also sent away. And the red and brown one left to rule the roost does not have the fortissimo of his father’s crow. At least not yet.

May all beings be happy.

Amy Lyon lives in West Tisbury.

Editor’s note: We’ve received a large volume of comments on this essay, and we have published a selection of them, all signed with full names. The Gazette welcomes signed commentaries on a wide range of topics which do not necessarily reflect the views of the newspaper. We reserve the right to limit comments that are anonymous, repetitive or offensive.