When John is gone, sometimes out-of-the-ordinary things happen. Once when he was in Brazil, all of the kitchen cabinets came off the wall and onto the floor. That was The Big Kitchen Catastrophe, which fortunately spared our then-6-year-old son who was in the midst of it, although just about everything else was in shards. A few years later a much different surprise awaited John when he returned from Georgia's Okefenokee Swamp; that was when I suddenly adopted a wonderful rambunctious young black lab from our vet. Ever since then I imagine he wonders if something unlooked-for may happen in his absence.
I wonder the same thing. He's in northern Japan now, where the snow is deep, and winter is still heavy on the land. Here, I just saw bluebirds sunning themselves at the top of the oak tree in the back yard. By the time John gets back on Thursday maybe the biggest change he'll notice is that the season has begun to turn.
But there is something else, a sad little loss that Ed and Reub and I came across yesterday evening in the tree plantation about 100 yards behind the house. We found the stiffening body of one of the twin fawns we have watched since last summer: her neck was broken, her life lost in some bad twist of fate.
My first reaction was just to be sad: poor, beautiful, fragile little life.
But then a series of pragmatic thoughts occurred. This is a place where I walk the dogs daily... a dead deer on the path presents obvious problems. But it's a smaaaall deer. I could carry it out myself...and then do what with it? Naah. Best to let the coyotes dine on it tonight, and the vultures will finish it tomorrow.
This morning I went to check; there she lay, tawny and soft and still-untouched in the frosty grass. The coyotes hadn't come through last night, and I remembered that the vultures are still in Mexico, sipping tequila on their annual winter break; unlike the bluebirds in the back yard, they won't be back for weeks. So I put on some gloves, grabbed a tarp, and drove the Subaru around the other side of the tree plantation. I wrapped her up carefully and put her in the back of the car. (John if you're reading this, don't worry, the car was well-protected!)
So now I know, kind of, what it feels like to have a body in the back of your car. Yeah, not good. You just want to really really not have it there for a minute longer. But you drive the speed limit because you don't want to be stopped; seriously, this is what you do.
I only had to go a few minutes down a long dead-end road where I knew I could lay my burden down: away from anybody's house, in the deep grass beneath a tree at the edge of a huge forest.
Sorry for this sad, dumb story, but that's what happened today. [And again, John, when you read this I know you'll wonder which tarp I used. I was gonna leave you guessing, but it was my tarp. I put it back on top of your wood pile:)]