This sudden winter reminds me that even the cold, sunless, lonely parts of the circle of life are necessary and good. A few weeks ago, while my boys were home for the holidays I was fixing breakfast and happened to look out the kitchen window in time to see a gang of turkey vultures in the distant field. I said aloud, “I wonder if there's a carcass out there.” I couldn't see what was attracting the birds, but it was not just one or two of them. I was occupied with waffle batter, and the boys were enjoying coffee in their jammies, so their father put on his shoes and walked out to the field to see what the commotion was about. Michael returned shortly to tell us it was a young deer. “It's really beautiful,” he said. “After breakfast we should all walk out to see it.”
|It lay in the stubble of beans.|
A few days later, Ursula raised the alarm. My puppy is kind of a chicken, but always lets us know about any disturbance or intruder. I went to the window and saw a big, red tractor in the field. Jim and Sean were out to finish the work of the birds. I was a little sad, but of course they needed to remove the deer before applying fertilizer in the coming weeks. When I looked again a while later, the tractor was gone and so was the carcass. I was glad, again, that we had walked out as a family to honor the cycle of life and death in our clumsy way.
This morning, back in the winter time, I watch from the window as Michael throws the frisbee for Ursula. Her muzzle is sugared with snow crystals and her excitement is palpable. She trots up with the frisbee (which is really the plastic drip tray of a flower pot that she stole) and drops it at Michael's feet. He lets it sail and she carefully watches the trajectory of the flight and bursts into a run like a greyhound from the starting gate. She catches the frisbee in a wild explosion of snow spray, and trots it back to Michael for another round. I watch for a moment more, thinking with wonder of the cycles of life and death, frisbees and snow, and the dance of a little black dog and a big man in a brown parka.
Begin in Beauty; End in Peace; Blessed Be.