(Someday, I will write the sad, sad story of the 500 bulbs and the Easter Frost...but I am still working through some issues.)
The forces of Spring have begun to infiltrate my yard. Winter fought back yesterday...but these are daffodils people, they are not afraid. The tulips have been surprisingly brave as well. The lenten roses have started blooming and the grape hyacinths are poking up like strange little nose hairs through the leaf mulch. The roses were coated with ice yesterday morning, but they hardly batted an eyelash and the new red growth looks fine today. Spring is slyly creeping in through the freezing rain and sleet and it will not be stopped. I hope.
(Someday, I will write the sad, sad story of the 500 bulbs and the Easter Frost...but I am still working through some issues.)
So...for those of you who know my chickens. I have sad news. Lady Gwen is no more. She was killed, apparently by a neighborhood dog. I feel a little guilty because I guess I could have kept her in the chicken coop all the time, but she seemed to like to be out and about, hanging with the cats and eating from the garden. Sigh...
At any rate, I'm gonna miss that crazy chicken, lining up with the cats for cat food, standing by my shovel when I was gardening picking out worms, sitting on my shoulder and eating out of my hands. And how many chickens wait every evening to be chauffeured to their place in the barn? Not many, I guess. Plus she actually came when I called her. I can't really say that for any of the other animals at my house. (Or the kids, or the husband really). So goodbye Lady Gwen, you totally unreplaceable fowl.
It's back to blogging after the holidays! Except...I think my brain is still on a holiday. Early January is time for my yearly affliction...hibernation brain. I have always advocated for a period of hibernation for humans in temperate zones. After Christmas, if we could all curl up under the blankets for a long two month siesta, it would be so comfortable and sensible. I have typically eaten enough to sustain myself through these months and I hate being cold so I can't imagine why this idea does not catch on. I suspect it is because people lazy enough to advocate for hibernation are too lazy to become activists.
At any rate, knowing how anxious everyone must be to see me return to blogging, I made a very serious attempt to think of something clever yesterday morning on my way back from taking Essie to school. But there was sunshine, and a soft rising fog steaming over the wet roads, which were strangely lovely and sparkling, and pink smoke rising from the chimney of a little white house with peeling pain making pastels swirls that twisted through the mist. And then, as though someone had shaken them out of a pepper shaker, a flock of birds synchronized themselves into an odd dance pattern in the sky and...in short, my brain shut down and refused to focus itself on producing advice or coherent thought of any sort and began focusing instead on the pastel landscape and pale blue sky and the pale brown fields softly smudging themselves against the horizon with no clear line of demarcation in the same way that the soft, soft blankets on my bed fade into the fluffy pillows...
I will try again tomorrow. If you don't hear from me soon...wake me around March.
This is hope. Fat at the bottom. Pointed and slender at the top. It’s wrapped in onion skin and a little bit dirty. I am angry at it. “I don’t believe in Spring any more,” I tell it. I look around as if to prove my point; the trees are bare and somehow an old paper cup has escaped the trash can and is slowly dissolving into the lawn next to the bed where the bulbs will spend the winter. The crepe myrtles reach frantically skyward with their bare rust colored arms, as if they died of fright. That misshapen red bud that has to lean away from the clutch of the cedars just to breathe is bare as well; grabbing my hat with its skeleton hands whenever I walk past it to go to the barn. The leaves are morphing into dirt under the naked trees or becoming paper shadows of themselves. It is, of course, cold. Barely above freezing. The universe conspires to make sure the only days I can plant bulbs are either cold or wet….and always, always windy.
The bulb stares blankly at me, a bit of green showing at its delicate neck, because I have waited too long to plant it. “I should be working.” I say rudely to it. The light is waning this time of year and I have to sneak out to bury it under the butterfly bush while I should be working in my nice warm office. It is one bulb and I still have 300 of its brothers and sisters to plant. The white skin shows under the peeling, papery skin and it gleams a little in the gray day. It is ugly and plain except for those green shoots, which fill me with shame at my own procrastination. There are weeds in the dirt, evergreen and tough. I have to dig them out before I can plant the bulb. I hurt my knee on a small rock and say a rude word. I cut the wet brown dirt with a garden knife, slashing and then twisting, moving small rocks, digging for wild onion bulbs. I cut an earthworm and apologize. The knife hits a something solid and makes a terrible grating sound. I grunt and dig around it, finally shifting it. It’s a brown and jagged rock as big as my hand. I am trying to dig carefully around the roots of my apricot roses, which also look shriveled and sad; they no longer believe in the Spring either. Before I place the bulb in the ground, I stare at it. I pick up the mesh bag and read the paper label stapled to it. Pink Margarita. That sounds rather frivolous on a day like this. I cannot think how the pink and yellow tulip will look. Pink and yellow are not appropriate to this twilit universe. Pink Margarita tulips in this winter world seem as out of place as clowns at a funeral. There is something too absurd about this whole thing.
I look at the bed, trying to get some idea of spring, trying to remember the point of this exercise. I can’t remember how the branches of the little peach trees look when they are covered with buds. The butterfly bushes hold out brown panicles, corroded by the cold. What’s left of the hyacinth bean is somehow dry and limp at the same time, snaking off the arbor at an absurd angle, dangling its crusty little pods overhead. I sigh and squeeze the bulb into the dirt channel, rubbing off some of its delicate skin accidentally, and I cover it with the rough, red-brown dirt. To make up for my previous rudeness, I ask it politely to please come up in the spring and to do its best not to become lunch for a squirrel. I plant as many as I can before dark.
When I come back to the porch, I am cold. My ears hurt. My coat is covered with dirt. Even though I wore gloves, there is dirt under my fingernails. My shoes are muddy. My knee is bruised and my back hurts. I am grumpy. I still have bulbs left to plant. I stare at their little green tops. The little funny looking green tops sticking out of the fat bottomed, hairy rooted bottoms, looking for the sun. That’s hope I guess. I go in for coffee and a bath.
I drove through the dark last night and the fog was on the move, like an army of ghosts. It wasn’t a sit down, settling fog, moving in with a steady purpose. It was one of those fogs that swirled itself into a solid cloud that totally obscured the moon soaked farms on either side one minute and broke into solitary wraiths the next, each with a different mournful aspiration, uncertain as to the path down which its hopes might hide. Amusing antics, but I was in no hurry to join their ranks so it was a bit of a harrowing drive. Here’s the road; now it’s gone, a funny joke for the specters of the fog, not so funny for me.
But this morning the joke was on them. It seems last night that the circus of ghostly fog finally exhausted itself and settled in the trees for a bit of a rest after the performance. It was caught napping by the cold and when the sun woke it up this morning it found it had been transformed from a shifting, dancing troupe of performing ghosts into a mere embellishment for the trees, solid, stiff and fixed in place, an embarrassing position for a group of specters. Trees that yesterday were mere skeletons of themselves, that were nothing the eye could settle on, were suddenly bursting like clouds behind the small tacky buildings on the main strip, glittering, white, filled out almost as big as summer with leaves of ice. Tops of houses and even the little strip shops were coated with white. Dead grass was as sharp and crystalline as icicles. From behind the concrete walls of the bridge, frosty branches hung over the Elk River as it splashed over the rocks like liquid ice. Everything glittered like Fairyland iced with the frozen ghosts. For a few minutes, it looked as though Walmart and Sonic and that ugly building covered with blue tarp at the end of the street might have wandered into some land of enchantment by mistake, as if they might be the ephemeral, endangered species instead of the trees. I thought maybe the plain and dirty buildings might feel just a little ashamed and disappear. But the sun kept rising and getting stronger and the ghostly cloud began to wake up and pull itself together, ashamed of being caught earthbound and now it is lifting itself again and leaving, Walmart and Sonic and Marvin’s and Krystal are sighing with relief to be back in the “real” world, and the ghosts, I assume are going back home or still searching for whatever it is that a flock of ghosts might be searching for.
The leaves are almost gone. They were stunning this year, but just as they reached their carnival peak, I went to the desert and when I returned the wind had blown most of them into rust colored piles on the ground and now I press what is left of the blazing color, that last week was pressed against the sky, under my boots with a crunch. Another year of life, pressed under the boot heel, compost maybe for next year’s flowers? Beauty dulled, wasted, soul filling color faded to veins and dust.
The world in which I find myself does not allow for the sad, the broken, the used up. The cold, stark world of decaying leaves and bone cleansing winds drives us in, not inside ourselves to see the same, but into our houses filled with artificial warmth and Christmas colors. We will go back when the world hides its nakedness under a new coat of leaves, when it once again covers itself with the chaos of green buds and bright flowers. Or we might venture out if we find it bundled under a blanket of snow. Anything to cover the sad, structural features of the stripped landscape. But this year, for some reason the warmth seems artificial and small. The cold and decay seep under the door and put out their long misty fingers in search of something. I seal the doors and windows. The color is gone…time for hibernation. I come from a background which does not tolerate despair. If the lights of Christmas and Easter are not enough to illuminate the darkness, whose fault can it be but mine? Signs of decomposition are ignored and hidden. When the winter comes we go inside. The darkness of the soul and mind are papered over with a false sense of faith, a list of magical incantations meant to keep the darkness at bay. And yet….
It’s possible that if I write in letters small enough and slanted enough that I will feel comfortable letting the words slip softly, sneakingly, out of my head and onto the paper…quiet, quiet little words falling onto the paper with a whisper from the rough end of my old and spitting pen. Words of winter, better left unsaid, perhaps. The thoughts they represent are as veined and old as the leaves which have inspired them. How did I skip the bold stage of autumn where the leaves die fiercely in brilliant pools of golden yellow light, or in a fury of blazing red fire, clinging urgently to the trees in the face of the winter? I have come back to a time when winter is already ascendant. From carnival to funeral in the space of a week.
The young can only give a vague and half-hearted assent to the idea that age is like autumn and autumn is like age. The autumn clings to the fertility of the earlier year, if only by creating a colorful tribute to it because it realizes that it is dying. But I am beginning to understand it. The time comes when even the healthy must understand that time is not infinite, possibilities begin to cancel each other out. The boundaries of the trap become visible and there is one way out and only a limited time for defiance and brilliance. The winter comes when all of the choices and possibilities and chaos of the earlier year harden into reality. The cloak is snatched away, the ornamentation is removed. The truth of winter is unsoftened, drab and gray.
This year the winter is moving already. Sometimes it waits...it lingers on the outskirts of autumn politely and even lets summer have a moment or two to play again. This year, winter seems insistent, pressing. But this year, I want to go into the winter, to see what it wants to say, to defy it like the blazing leaves. The bare branches against the gray sky, the wind that cleans off the last of the detritus, the brown sleeping grass. I have sneaking moments when I have a mad desire to feel the wind in my face or the snow on my cheeks. I want to feel the dead ground, brown and hard, under my feet. I want to see the structure…the underneath. I want to see what is left when everything dies. I want to feel my bones ache with the cold in the dark night filled with the tiny glittering icy pinpricks of stars and then be drawn into the poor yellow lamplight of my house or the still defiant, but small hot red fire in the stove. I want the cup of tea to warm me. First I will have to be cold. And the tulips, and the lilacs need the cold too, I remember, and although I don’t quite believe in it in the dead of winter, maybe there will be spring. And if I let the winter teach me something, maybe I will understand the chicks, and the flowers, and the Easter better. Maybe if I feel the winter this time, if I let it cut through me and clean my bones and watch it eat the leaves and grass I will be able to feel it breaking up, to feel the subtle signs of its subjugation again in the spring.
Our hen Ligeia disappeared about a month ago. She was the mother of the formerly eulogized Buttercup. I looked around for her a bit...or for the pile of feathers that would be all that was left of her....and nothing. Sadly, I was not surprised.
It turns out I did not look hard enough. She was hiding in the back of the old chicken tractor that I don't use anymore hatching off some more chicks. As expected the chicks are fluffy and cute and honestly down right silly. There's a reason they are at the bottom of the food chain.
I always feel a little cheated though by the whole happy new life hatching scene because every time we have lovely cute little baby chickens to assure us that life goes on, there are always a few eggs that don't hatch and a few chicks that just don't make it. So death goes on too, side by side with life. Nobody puts that in the Easter pictures. It's upsetting and gross.
Plus, I have to fight with Ligeia to put the chicks somewhere safe...so instead of feeling all fuzzy and warm inside, I always spend the first day feeling vaguely sad and pretty scratched up. Then there's digging around in the pantry to see if I have any organic oats or something to feed them while I run out to Tractor Supply (where I realize I have not brushed my hair. Quit looking at me like that you crazy old farmers! At least I have hair!)
So day 1 of chicken hatching....not so warm and fuzzy. By tomorrow though...those chickens are so cute and so fuzzy and so delightfully silly that I will probably be back in Easter picture mode.
So the other day, I was in my car for an hour long drive, and I started skimming through radio stations. I should never do this. First of all, if I hear a song I do like, the radio immediately develops static and I just get annoyed. Secondly, if I hear something irritating, I can't just change the station like a normal person would. No...I listen to every train wreck of a program that I hear and argue with the radio. It has the advantage of keeping me awake, I suppose.
Today, I would like to discuss just such a train wreck. I was listening to a Christian book club review of The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald. You may here point out to me that since this is the religion that I claim to follow, I should be happy to hear such a thing. That is the very thing you should enjoy, you might be saying to yourself. You would be wrong and I will be happy to explain why. You may also say to yourself....what a silly thing to care about. What difference can it possibly make how someone reads a story? Well, I would like to take little time today discuss why I think reading and understanding stories is important and how I think it has to be done if we would like to be good human beings who understand and get along with others. And not only that, it is important to how we see and understand ourselves.
First of all, let's think about why stories are important. Why does a story matter, and I mean either a "true" story of someone's life or a fictional story? Stories matter because stories are how humans experience sequential time. They matter because the content that we choose to remember and reinforce and the context with which we surround those sequential facts makes us who we are, whether we are experiencing the present or re-experiencing that content and context through memory. What happens to you and how you interpret it are the basis of your experience of yourself and others as human beings. Stories make us people. They can explain why we are Christian people, or Agnostic people, or Hindu people. Stories make us seem like nice people or evil people or funny people or sad people. A story can explain why one person might become a clown and another person becomes an accountant. And the delightful humanizing factor of storytelling and narrative is that it can contain many of these things at once. People can be all of these things in the same story if only it is long enough. (You should hear my stories about clown school someday. Actually, I made those up, but even that says something about me...don't you think?)
Read the life of Martin Luther for instance. He was a Catholic and then a Protestant. He wanted freedom and condoned oppression. Here was a man by turns brave, and insolent, and crazy, and good, and mean---like most of us only probably a little bit more of all of those things. And furthermore, take note of the context of his life. There are some things that Martin Luther said that might very well land you in jail or a psychiatric hospital if you said them now--or at least make others give you a wide berth at cocktail parties. (This is not to excuse him for being dreadful sometimes....please note...but placing him in the context of 16th Century Germany tends to make him more understandable. His actions have some sort of rational and emotional basis, which they would not have in a different context.) Stories like his are important because the series of intersecting facts and events that shape us make us understandable and human to others and to ourselves.
So first of all, stories are important. Stories are foundational to all self-knowledge and relationships. If stories are so important, then it follows that it is important how we read them.
And now we come to the book club discussion in question. Give me a moment to shake my head in mild horror...wait a minute...I have to perform a quick face palm...and now we are ready to go on.
The book that our church ladies were reviewing was The Great Gatsby. If you haven't read it - what the heck is wrong with you? Go read it. It's the Great American Novel. It's a book by F. Scott Fitzgerald about a self-made man named Gatsby who has a deep and misplaced love for Daisy Buchanan, a super rich woman married to a super rich man both of whom come from super rich families, sort of American aristocracy. Gatsby has had to make his living by working very hard, albeit on things that are not necessarily legal, and he does it all to win Daisy's love.
Daisy and Tom Buchanan have so much money that they don't appear to ever even think about it, other than how to spend it, and they lead aimless and dissolute lives. The whole story is narrated by a guy from the Midwest named Nick, a distant cousin of Daisy's; Nick is not fabulously wealthy, he comes from upper middle class people who understand hard work and business. While Nick is involved with Gatsby and Tom and Daisy, he has a sort mild flirtation or affair with a woman named Jordan, another one of the dissolute rich. Tom is dating a poor woman named Myrtle on the side whose husband, George Wilson, runs a gas station in a desolate area called the Valley of Ashes. The Valley of Ashes is home to the very poor who crawl around in a cloud of ash, inhuman and obscured from the sight of the rich.
This book has spawned endless other books that discuss all of the many and various understandings you can have based on the story contained within its pages. It is about the ephemeral nature of the good time twenties and the idea that the jazz age could go on forever. It's about the reckless way that the the ultra rich treat everyone else and the consequences of their inability to see people lower on the social scale (or often even each other) as fully human. It's about misdirecting your love and passions to objects unworthy of them. It's about understanding that your past can neither be revisited nor totally left behind. It's about what happens when you use other people as means to your own ends. It's about the difference between the poor and the rich and the middle class. It's about accidentally becoming entangled in the misdirected passions of others. And that...that is the tip of the iceberg with this story guys.
For such a short book, it has an amazing depth and a beautiful circular structure. Fitzgerald's use of Nick as a narrator who participates in the story, but functions much more as an observer, is beautifully thought out. Nick is sort of a moral center (not a morally ideal character, but one through whom the reader can have an outsider's understanding of the other characters' values and philosophies.) Whew! It's quite a book.
So what did our lunchtime book review club crew discover in this gem of an American tragedy? They discover that Daisy is shallow and she commits adultery and therefore...ugh...Daisy is bad. Don't be like Daisy. Nick knows that Tom, and then Daisy and Gatsby, are committing adultery, but doesn't tell them to stop and therefore Nick is bad. Don't be like Nick. He is shallow and immoral. They also determine that Tom, who simply uses people and then discards them, breaking the arm of one chambermaid that he is dating and the nose of his mistress, is no worse than Gatsby whose whole life revolves around loving Daisy and trying to make her love him, misplaced as that love might be. Why? Because they both commit adultery. They are frustrated that George Wilson does not appear to have a church when he is asked about it. This, they determine is the reason he shoots Gatsby and then himself. They are upset that God seems to be Sir Not-Appearing-In-This-Book. The long and the short of the book review seemed to be that this book is full of people who are breaking moral rules about going to church and committing adultery.
However, they do recommend that you allow your children to read it because all of the people who break moral rules in this story end up either unhappy or dead, thus at least coming to somewhat just ends. They feel that your children should see and understand that people who go to wild parties and commit adultery and who don't have a church to attend are going to end up unhappy or dead. In the long run, this means that the book does have some redeeming value.
During this book club discussion, not one word was ever mentioned about the difference between the rich and the poor. Not one word was mentioned about the great spiritual impoverishment of "the American dream," a dream that seems to be as much about acquiring wealth and power as anything else, a theme upon which Fitzgerald so poignantly dwells in this story, which would seem to be right up their alley, theologically speaking. None of the great depths of the human soul that are so magnified in this book can even be seen by these ladies. Why not?
Because these ladies cannot listen to other people. They cannot hear Gatsby's need and his misplaced hope. They cannot understand Myrtle's inability to live a life of dust and dryness. They cannot understand that Daisy and Tom have deeper problems than simply looking for love outside of marriage.
You do not have to condone anything that these characters did to understand them, to listen to them, to let them tell their stories. And this skill is important in life as well. If one of your friends is troubled do you simply give her a list of two rules, shake your head and walk away? Or can you listen to the story? Can you look at your own story and see your own flaws, flaws more likely than not unshaken and undeterred by the fact that you don't go to wild parties or commit adultery (or maybe you do...I can't know)? Can you see that the tragedy goes deeper than your small box framed with things you are probably not tempted to do? Can you understand that even if you lived within the framework of a few rules regarding your own personal virtue that you could still commit unspeakable sin? Can you understand that under different circumstances your own rules might be much harder to keep, that what looks like terrible failure from the outside might be the result of a valiant struggle inside? If you can't listen to anyone else's story then your answer to all of these questions will have to be no. And if you can't listen to people, you cannot love them, you cannot help them....you cannot even properly judge them.
As a literature teacher, I think I would have those ladies tear up their drafts and try again.
Perhaps you are wondering what it is like to be me? How glamorous it must be to sit around in the early morning and write a blog and some really weird stories that no one wants to even pay you for or possibly even read. Well...you are in luck because today I am going to let you know what a typical day in the world of Julie is like. I am sure you will come away thinking....I should write a blog myself or some silly stories or....not.
5:55 AM: I am awake. The alarm is set for 6:15. Why am I not asleep? I want to be asleep. I should be asleep. I close my eyes. I am not asleep. I open my eyes. I am tired. Who gets up at this unearthly hour? Why am I here? What is the answer to life the universe and everything? Why does it have anything to do with getting up before 6 AM? I hear the dog at the door. She somehow knows I am awake. If I don't get up now she will go and poop on the porch. I get up.
6:00 AM: I pick up my cat, Brutus, who needs to chew on my fuzzy house coat for approximately 3 minutes or all will not be well with the universe. I carry him to the food dish and feed all three cats.
6:15 AM: First attempt to wake up my fourteen year old daughter, Essie. I am pleasant. I turn on the light and tell her in a cheerful voice that it is time to get up. She pulls the blanket up over her head. I pull the blanket down so that I can see one glaring eye. "Get in the shower," I say loudly.
6:25 AM: I have started some bacon. I walk to the end of the stairs. I hear...nothing. I walk up the stairs. Essie is still in bed. I am no longer polite or cheerful. I bellow, "Get up and get in the shower...you are going to be late." I hear a shuffling noise and some banging around as I turn to walk back down the stairs.
6:29 AM: I realize that I have not given the cats their canned food. Brutus has also realized this. He is standing on the table howling, even though he is not supposed to be in the house. I take him down and split a can of some disgusting smelling tuna and egg between the cats. I bring up the remainder for the dogs. They are now unable to eat their morning food unless some small amount of canned cat food has been sprinkled on it.
6:32 AM: I get a bacon splatter on my arm. It hurts. I feel vaguely awake.
6:40 AM: I tell Essie that breakfast is ready.
6:43 AM: I tell Essie that breakfast is ready.
6:45 AM: I tell Essie that breakfast is ready. She says SHE KNOWS.
6:47 AM: Essie stumbles into the kitchen like the undead and eats half a piece of bacon and three tablespoons of oatmeal. I tell her to dry her hair and brush her teeth and find some shoes. SHE KNOWS.
7:00 AM: I take a break from reading emails and drinking coffee to yell up the stairs,"You have twenty minutes. Are you ready?" She has twenty-five or thirty minutes. Better that she doesn't know that. The sounds of I'M GETTING READY! rolls down the stairs. This means she has been sitting around petting her cat and contemplating her navel. She will now begin getting ready.
7:29 AM: We are on our way to school. I realize I have not let the chickens out. They will have to wait. Essie hands me some papers to sign. I remind her that I am driving. I sign them at the stop light.
7:48 AM: I drop Essie at school. A skinny kid dressed in baggy, superlong shorts that make his legs look like they belong to some sort of large prehistoric bird runs in front of my car as I am trying to leave. I would think that I am invisible to him but he turns to glare at me after I slam on the brakes to keep from hitting him.
7:57 AM: I am tempted to run through a drive-through and buy a diet coke on my way back home. I really need the caffeine. But it's probably really bad for me. I am too tired to listen to my own very persuasive arguments against buying the coke. I get it.
8:05 AM: I am in front of the computer. It's time to start writing.
8:06 AM: I am on the way to the chicken house. I have to let out the chickens.
8:10 AM: I am still trying to convince Lady Gwen to leave the chicken coop and walk across the yard with me. She is concerned that I have already let the rooster out. The rooster is angry because I have not let him out. I finally scoot Lady Gwen out of her own personal chicken house and let the other chickens out.
8:15 AM: I am in front of the computer. It's time to start writing.
8:16 AM: I am looking at FARK.
8:20 AM: I am looking at FaceBook. I am hoping you people have done something interesting so that I can continue to procrastinate for a few more minutes.
8:25 AM: Nope. Apparently you people have lives and you cannot spend all your time on FaceBook.
8:26 AM: I remember that I have not checked out Slactivist's website since yesterday morning. I get on Slacktivist. Goody! He has a big list of links. Hmmm...the first one looks interesting. The second one too. The third one...meh. I should skip the ones that don't look interesting since I need to start writing. There are seven. I read them all.
9:05 AM: I am reading the comments on the link page.
9:10 AM: I realize that I am not writing yet.
9:20 AM: I have my blog page pulled up and I am ready to start. I have to go to the bathroom. I go to the bathroom.
9:25 AM: I realize I left some laundry sitting in the washer last night. I go downstairs and put it in the dryer. I realize that I don't have any clean socks or underwear and load the washer too.
9:35 AM: I am back at my computer. It's time to start writing.
9:40 AM: I am not sure what to write. I had some good ideas for a story but I maybe should write a blog post...it's been a week. Actually, I should really write down the ideas for the story before I forget them. I will do that first.
9:45 AM: I am trying to remember my ideas for the story. Wait! I knew this was going to happen. I wrote them down.
9:50 AM: I am looking for my gold notebook. Found it!
9:52 AM: I realize that I wrote down my ideas in the black notebook. Why do I have two notebooks?
9:58 AM: I am cleaning up my office in an attempt to find my black notebook.
10:15 AM: I remember that my black notebook is in the car. Oh well...the office is a little cleaner.
10:30 AM: I am writing down my ideas for the story. Now that I have written them down...I don't like them. This is insane.
10:35 AM: I go out to see what Brutus is crying about. I suddenly realize that I can fix the story. I rush back to the computer to write down the new and better ideas. I trip over the dog.
10:36 AM: I sit down and write out a few ideas for the story. This might work.
10:45 AM: I am a little stuck. I unload a few dishes from the dishwasher and put them up while I am thinking.
10:46 AM: I realize the dishes were still dirty. I try to remember which ones I just put up and put them back in the dishwasher. I finish loading the dishwasher and run it.
11:00 AM: I am writing.
11:30 AM: I am hungry.
11:35 AM: I realize that I have not been to get groceries this week when I look in the refrigerator.
11:36 AM: I contemplate showering. I reject the idea in favor of lunch and just brush my hair and find some shoes. Makeup? No.
11:45 AM: I am at the Mexican restaurant.
12:30 PM: I am driving home and I realize that I am out of dog food.
12:40 PM: Tractor Supply
1:00 PM: I am back in front of the computer. I check out FB. I start writing.
1:45 PM: I have to do some more laundry, walk the dogs and get a package ready to mail before I can pick up Essie. Writing time is over for the day.
And that my dear readers is the story of how this blog gets written.
So yesterday morning, I buried a small chicken. The night before, it was squeezed to death by a six foot rat snake as it was going into its house to roost for the night. It was a little black hen with a gold neck that was almost pullet sized. I had actually been worried about not putting the babies back in the chicken yard and clipping their wings to keep them safe. Ha! I suppose the joke was on me because the monster that murdered her was not the fox in woods or the hawk in the trees, it was a monster that hid in her little house. (Try telling a chicken that the monsters under the bed aren't real.)
Anyway, it was a sad moment in the ongoing soap opera of the Carpenter Chickens. And the funny part, the part that makes me wonder about my sanity, is that it was so sad. After all, chickens are at the bottom end of the food chain. You would have to be a worm or a bug to get any lower. I have lost a number of chickens. There were Angelo's first two wives, Dottie and Millie. Millie went first...food for a hawk. Dottie was next done in by a racoon (who didn't even bother to eat her - at which I took a deep offense). There was Lady Gwen's sister who didn't even last long enough to get a name. And last year, there was a chick who just didn't make it after hatching. There was Sylvia, carried off by a fox in broad daylight and then the two hens Maria and Sophia, also known as the lost tribe of chickens for their wandering ways, and Roderick, Angelo's son, all of whom appear to have been eaten by our red-tailed hawks.
So this spring, when Ligeia hatched off five babies, I decided not to name them. I might as well name the worms I thought. I will see which ones live and which ones don't and name them later, I decided. After all, why should I get attached to an animal that I might eat under different circumstances. It doesn't really make sense. I was very stern with myself...there are plenty of bad things that happen in this world; there are people without enough to eat; people who live in war zones; people who lose the people they love every day. No more of this, I said to myself. "Self," I said very sternly, "This is ridiculous. What would a real farmer think. These are chickens and they do not require mourning."
But yesterday, when I went out to bury her, I kind of remembered her wandering around under the cedar tree with the light on her gold neck feathers. And I kind of thought about how she would turn her head sideways to see if I was going to give her any cat food. And how she was the calmest of the chicks and the fluffiest when she was first hatched and how I accidentally dropped her when I tried to put her into the special small cage I had for Ligeia and her brood when they were little. And even though she was a chicken and I felt that somehow it might be an affront to people who had "real" problems and "real" sadness, big people problems to be upset or sorrowful or angry about, I was sad anyway. And to be totally honest, and under no circumstances should you repeat this to a farmer, I might have even cried a little.
So I buried her under my biggest butterfly bush and I named her Buttercup. And if you ever come here, I can probably show you the place where I have put her under two of the most ornamental logs I could find.
I'm probably just crazy enough to do this again with more chicks next year. If anything happens to them? I'll still be sad. But they will already have names.