Lately words have been illusive; they slip through my hands as so many tiny silver fish. They flash brightly then vanish into the stream of daily life. There is something worth saying but the deeper truth eludes me. All I have of the last month are snippets:
My daughters beloved Hornsley Goats eaten by Coyotes. Buried in the pasture that once was brambles. We bring a Livestock Guardian home; a giant white Maremma named Samson. The Coyotes depart. Two depart one arrives.
A Coopers hawk kills a chicken in the barn. another hen is trapped next to the raptor as her twin is devoured. A broom convinces the hawk to depart the feast early then it rests on a tree. I consider the law while watching it through the scope of the Ruger 10/22. Resting between breaths I think denied a meal she will resume her migration. I put the gun down. Killing the hawk will not resuscitate the Hornsleys, and mankind has done enough ill to raptors to forgive one chicken.
The lambs are coming; the first sign of life. The ewe gets sick and one baby dies the other needs extra formula. The mother gets better and we have plenty of lamb milk mix.
The daughter is six and loses her first tooth the same day. She still crawls in bed at night. her skill at getting in bed silently is unsurpassed. A big girl but still the baby that would wrap her arms in my shirt to keep me from leaving.
Another pair of lambs and the mother rejects the runt. An old lady comes to raise her by bottle. Life and death again but spared by the kindness of a crone. It’s a good thing as the over abundance of death was becoming oppressive.
A medical condition of my own long ignored becomes threatening; the treatment simple but depressing. A corner turns in my head and it is clear I am both living and dying; the end may be far off but it marches with a certain step and in the night the footsteps echo. Never having thought I would make it to the point to consider the possibility of dying by old age this in itself bothers me; a seed under my collar that cannot be removed but suffered through until it wears itself away against my skin.
Tonight bread and Chile cook away the cold and wet. The hearth is no further along than it was on Friday and will have to wait another week. The sheep are in bed, lambs snuggled behind their mothers. Two more look to birth any day; more life, with it the possibility of death. By itself death means little beyond the love of others. We fear the dying of that which we love. Love is always a risk. Houses burn, jobs end, love breaks, children grow up, dogs age and pass away and if everything goes well one person get’s to close the other’s eyes and move on. But love is also a gift; the smell of a baby, gifted flowers from toddlers, the shining eyes and first bike rides. The hand that reaches out in darkness to comfort, the gift of comforting.
Love is what makes life ache, but it is also the balm that heals the pain and more. Everyone finds meaning somewhere and mine has always been in love. A time will come to die and I will leave no written work behind; no tome or record or beloved song. What will be left will be love in my children and the places I have been; in better kitchens and brighter rooms and hopefully some day in a wood stove installation. Someday a faded picture in some attic is all I will be. Perhaps someone will recall “oh yeah he was a cranky bastard, but he sure loved his kids. His dogs were prettty sweey too.”
And I will be happy with that.