Monday, February 11, 2019



Dear Ian,

     Yesterday I was walking our dogs by the river. I know the trail so well I could name each brier and clump of winter grass. The sun was bright and we tromped along and the strange abundance of the recent rains was evident. Such odd lushness for the winter. 
      In a place it was not meant to be was a large new box taped shut and thrown into the woods. So waxy and clean that it must have been from a Christmas gift...a BBQ grill or something , but now tossed out and in the path of our morning walk. Imprisoned inside, and given a slow death sentence was a skunk, she was silent and still in there, her smell the only clue that she might still be alive. She had tried to escape, gnawing a small hole there and poking her claws through in other places, but the waxy newness of the box was too strong.  Well I am sure you know what I did, Ian.... I tore the tape loose, pulled open the top and moved back slowly. Maybe the skunk still had some life in her, maybe she could find her way to the water nearby, was all I could think of at the time. Funny, it never occurred to me that I might get sprayed. You see, that's is what happens when we find ourselves and our hidden courage; when we are sure of what to do. The decision makes it self and we act. I feel so few moments of courage anymore that the punch of my own decisiveness was a shock. 

 being so near the river she could smell the water,
through the small chewed hole.... 
   locked away helpless and thirsty.
 Imagine that. 

    After catching a glimpse of her inside, nose crammed in the furthest corner and still as death,  we left her alone for a while; and me and the dogs moved away and left her alone.  Coming back later to find she had indeed escaped, leaving nothing but a pile of dry fur and her scent behind. 
      It was a victory and it satisfied me to the point of a smile. I felt you . I thought of you and all the big and small bit of life we have saved and tried to save in the years we had together. A baby armadillo, countless stunned birds, lizards, turtles, baby mice, kittens, and of course, some stray people, too. Those moments are more real to me now than almost anything else I can see or touch or imagine.  You and I brought out the courage in each other, and for that I am so grateful, baby.         Walking home I thought about the irony of that. Our mutual folly that things can be saved; that may well be the only reason we walk this ground in this life. As for the skunk, who shall forever more be known as Grace,  though she was indeed left to die in a shitty and cruel way, as fate would have it, she has  likely landed in a sweet new home; one I am most happy to share. This is not the end of the story......

    Coming home and sitting to reflect on all this on my back porch;  a hundred birds swarming my feeders, another thing happened.

 From above the canopy of oaks, my red shouldered hawk dipped down from above and scared the whole flock into chaos. I heard the slam as a cedar waxwing hit my bedroom window and broke her neck. She was the most beautiful bird I have ever seen, and I felt the intimacy of holding such wild and perfect life briefly in my hand.  I carried her to a a high spot as blood gurgled in her pretty throat. She was dying.
     And so my loving and brave boy,  the circle goes round and round; some live by strange happenstance and some die in crazy and cruel unpredictability.
     I wish so much that
you were the skunk and not the bird. Maybe you are.......

I miss you,


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