Posted in Compost on February 2, 2013
On New Year’s Eve I turned 55, which sure doesn’t seem as old as it used to be. I celebrated by cleaning mud off the legs of two horses, training one dog and removing from the refrigerator the numerous half-eaten bowls of food prepared in a failed effort to get a dying dog to eat. I lost McKenzie the day after Christmas, two months short of her eighth birthday.
Last month I just sort of muddled through. The loss was as keen as any I’ve ever felt, and the worst of any of my dogs. In part, that’s because she was so young, and in part because we’d beaten back cancer, month after month, but in the end, the rogue cells won. And finally, the loss was brutal because of who she was, a sweet, special dog so adaptable that she’d gone with me on a two-month book tour, traveling from city to city on a custom-wrapped bus, wagging her tail through everything new, from elevator rides to TV studios, to conference trade show floors, from coast to coast, 29 cities in all. She never met anyone she didn’t love, and the feeling was pretty much mutual.
And then she was gone.
I buried myself in my bed and in my work, and when I wasn’t doing either, I was slogging through ankle-deep mud to care for the two horsse that remained after Patrick went off to the Sacramento Police Department (yes, he passed!). We hit a cold streak when I had to worry about the pipes and the aging heater, and … well, I think you get the drift. It has been a miserable few weeks here, kinda like this. The month ended with McKenzie’s daughter Faith (pictured) limping, which of course I figured was also cancer. Turned out to be considerably more normal for a crazy-pants 3-year-old retriever: torn knee ligaments. She’ll need surgery in the not-too-distant future, but this I can live with. She’ll be fine, and I have pet health insurance.
January ended with a cathartic call with a friend a few days ago, and then, every day, I just started to feel better. The days grew warmer, the mud finally dried up, the writing and the focus got better and then, last Wednesday, I got the stalls cleaned down to the floors at last, the horses brushed clean and the barn and tack room organized. Yesterday I opened the back door to let the dogs out and could smell the world changing again. There are now flies in the manure and mosquitoes in the air. Bayberry, my Nigerian Dwarf dairy goat, will be delivering her kids soon, and the neighborhood ferals and barn cats are already fighting over mates. You can smell the grow.
It’s time to think about spring, and the garden I couldn’t get to last year, since it was all I could do to make the property safe and liveable for me and the animals, a project that predictably took more time and more money than I had, but got more or less done.
Time to turn the page …