Death. Why Take It Personally?

December 14, 2019

Yesterday, Jenn walked out of a chicken house gingerly holding a rat trap.  A large rat scurried back and forth inside as I took the cage from Jenn for the next necessary step.  "Don't drown it in my bathtub!" called Kevin.  He has reason to clarify; we discovered too late that previous rats had met their end in the rain barrel that he uses for his cold baths.  



I stepped onto the island in the farm pond and set the trap on the muddy bottom of the water.  Rats are able swimmers.  I crouched and cried as the last bubbles left the animal's whiskered face.  "I'm sorry, Rat," I said through my tears.  "I am so sorry."  


This brush with death left me pensive.  I looked at the rain drifting across the gray farm landscape and imagined the spring of the year after I die.  On bare twigs, buds hold perfect faith for spring's return.  There will be a year that I do not watch those buds flower.  Perhaps the magic of the Christmas season is less personal than I used to imagine.  Life will flourish again, whether or not this particular human is around to see it.  The birth celebrated at Christmas is an icon of what I see in the trees, the birds, the creeks: death is all around, and yet life will eternally renew itself.


I don't know what to do with this knowledge.  I settle for cooking the rat for the barn cats--experience has shown that they won't eat raw rats.  The death of this season brings me closer to what is true inside of me, here on a farm where practicality and philosophy are closely intertwined.  Perhaps my body is a bud, someday cracking open to flower in a mysterious spring.  For now, there are cats to feed.  Braised rat, anyone?



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