Monday, December 06, 2010


Last night was dark and windy, out in the yard: dry leaves rattling against fence and foundation. I dug a hole two or three feet deep, and then opened the cardboard box from the emergency veterinary clinic where they'd euthanized Brother Cat. They'd wrapped him in a little blanket. I rolled him out of the blanket and into the hole: he fell neatly into place, as if it was a little gymnastic routine we'd been practicing for weeks.

I shoveled the dirt back in, and then switched to a hoe to scrape the last few inches in, and smooth it out. I've become skilled at burying animals, in the last few years. A couple animals ago, we would have been more ceremonious about it, gathered around, chanted together. I murmurred a few om manis, and went back into the basement to put the tools away.

I sat on a wooden crate and took my shoes off -- they were caked with mud -- and stowed them up high on a shelf, the same shelf that holds the Christmas ornaments. Easier to let them dry out, and then knock the earth off them tomorrow, than to try to clean them now.

When I woke this morning there was still wind, and a little rain. 4:00 a.m. I got up and puttered about a little. Unloaded the dishwasher. The kids had overfilled the garbage pail, so I got an old plastic bag to drop the surplus into, and then took both bags out back to where the garbage can is. The stones that mark the path were rough on my bare feet, and the wet earth was cold. Poor old Brother. Never warm again.

As things fall away around me, as animals die, and we look at downsizing the house and sinking genteely down out of the middle class, as my beard and hair go whiter, I ought to feel myself diminished and waning. I don't. I feel more vigorous than ever, like camp fire flaring up in a breeze. I am, in simple fact, stronger and fitter than I've ever been in my life, and I have more determination and grit than ever. And I believe in less and less. Every time I've taken something on faith, I've regretted it. I believe my own eyes (most of the time) and my own hands. The rest will have to tend to itself. I'm not ready to be rolled into a hole in the ground just yet.

Finally a little blue light seeps into the cloudy sky. This morning was slow in coming.

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