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Gratitude and Goodbyes

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

You will remember, in the last post, that I turned up a box turtle nest when I was weeding  Bill's grave. I could not have been more dumbfounded to uncover those perfect leathern eggs in the loamy clay, just behind his head (he wanted to face East, to see the sun rise). Or more delighted (although there was a certain shiver to my spine, to think how close I'd come to driving my spade through them).

It felt like a gift from Bill. A little precious thank-you for the gravetending for him and his parents, which takes time and gasoline, shovels and tractors and effort, and not just one-time effort. For good, or as long as I can do it. It's not trivial.

 I am writing this up in the tower room so I can watch the sun rise. It is a doozy of a sunrise. I can hear rubythroats chittering, cardinals chipping, a brown thrasher skidding** and smacking, a catbird whucking, and a distant crow hollering. Now a peewee, now a blue-winged warbler with its dry chickering trill. A yellow-billed cuckoo whoops softly. A hooded warbler gives a melodic chip.  The oranges and salmons just get more and more intense and this morning I feel like the luckiest person alive. I get to sit up in this tower, listen to the birds wake up, watch the sunrise, and write a little. My daughter's asleep in her bed below for one more blessed morning.

 Today we start our journeys: she back to the Canary Islands to teach and hike and cook and  love and figure out what the next few years of her life might look like; me to Colorado with my best friend Shila to launch Saving Jemima at the Yampa Valley Crane Festival in Steamboat Springs. I'll give a talk that, if I do it right, no one is gonna dream took me months to put together. First, to mow the lawn, haul a 5-gallon jug of water out to the new tree, take Curtis to the kennel for the first time (I'm trying to be as chill as he probably will be about that). Anyway, lucky.

He was cool enough about the kennel to eat his dunner in the office while we waited for his placement. Do I love leaving him at a kennel, even a fabulous one? Nope.  I'm looking for someone in the Marietta, Ohio area who a. doesn't travel all the time like me
b. doesn't have cats or, preferably, other dogs and c. would love Curtis' companionship while I flak my new book all over the place. Curtis came to me with a zero-tolerance policy on cats, and there's no changing that.

Now, back to our story. We've just planted the Memorial Maple and are sending Liam off. 
I had to hurry back to the house as soon as we got the tree watered in,
because Liam was taking off in a few minutes for Morgantown, to start another school year at WVU.

Liam's pretty used to saying goodbye to me and Phoebe. I'd be lying if I said he's gotten used to saying goodbye to Curtis. There's something about a dog that lets your love come flowing out, unfettered. It's a simple, uncomplicated, but very deep love. It has to do with the satiny feel and warm popcorn smell of a dog, too, and in that it's quite primitive and all the more piercing.


When Liam thought this was the last kiss he'd go in for just one more. Gosh he looks like my brother here.

This is one sweet, sweet cur-dog.
And one sweet, sweet young man.

Funny thing about Curtis. He didn't quite get this kissing thing when he first came to us in February. It was a rare, rare thing to see that pink tongue come out. He always looked a little puzzled when we'd land a smooch on his muzzle. We figure it wasn't part of his upbringing with his first family. Now? It's like Chet Baker has been tiptoeing in and giving him kissing lessons at night. He's shameless. He responds to, "Give me a kiss!" with a sweet smackeroo. Good dog, Curtis! Curs go where they're needed, and we need a lot of kisses around here.

One of Phoebe's 700 good-bye kisses to the sweetest curdoggie.  

Phoebe drove Liam into town to meet his cousin Gus. They'd drive to Morgantown together. Grateful, once again, not to make that three-hour trek, grateful that Liam and Gus have each other as they face all the challenges of life and college. I kissed them goodbye and looked around the front gardens.

This is the time of year the Achimenes stands up to be counted. Some little bits of rhizome snuck into the soil I used to pot my bargain gardenia last fall, and oh!! look at them now!

I'm getting photos from all kinds of people to whom I've given Achimenes rhizomes. So delightful! You put up with a straggly bunch of plants for what seems like forever, until they do THIS in mid-August. I wish I knew on what mysterious timer these plants run; why they wait and wait and wait to bloom, but they do.  Honestly I think they need shorter days to trigger blooming. I used to think they needed heat, so I tried that, growing them in the tower room well into June, baking them in hope of buds. Nope. They are worth every month of waiting.

I turned to the golden raspberries Connie Toops gave me years ago and did a little shirt picking. What a gift! They had a big first crop in June, and then the coons found them and busted down most of the canes. The raspberries sent up more canes and we are keeping them as closely picked as we can, every day, and I get to put THIS in my yogurt every morning!

I cut some spearmint and lemon verbena for Runner's Tea.

I stopped and marveled at what a couple of handfuls of Osmocote and Ironite can do for a very tired planter of flowers. Why hadn't I fed them earlier??

My pomegranate bonsai, which is in no danger of ever being planted on anyone's grave, is full of miniature fruit this summer. Oh how I love this willing little tree.

The tuberoses are just of the charts wonderful this year. They perfume the entire yard at dusk. The big sphinx moths come zooming in to feed. Grateful.

Then, before I forgot to do it, I went to the garage and fetched a big wire bike basket and three stakes. I positioned it over the turtle nest. Carefully, I drove them in, and replaced the fencing.  No skunk or coon would make dinner of this turtle nest.

I'll keep watering the turtle nest, when I water the new tree. Box turtle eggs incubate for three months, and these were probably laid in late May or early June. I'll keep my fingers crossed that one day I'll find a neat round hole, dug out from the inside (no tailings mounded beside it) where some newly minted turtlets have made their way out.

A mighty fortress is this grave. 

**The brown thrasher's mild alarm call sounds to me like a bike skidding to a halt on gravel, a muted, low ksssshhhh; while its higher intensity alarm call is like two marbles smacking together.


My heart just swelled with all the love and pure joy in this post. Your descriptive words transport me right there to Indigo Hill, which I just know some day I'll be lucky enough to visit. XOXO

Oh Jayne wouldn’t that be wonderful?! Me too! ❣️

Do you have an audio of bird calls? Love to hear 1/2 what you hear & id them!!

Your focus on gratitude and joys, rather than the grief of good-byes, is a gift to ALL of us. My humbled thanks.

Lovely post. No doubt the Yellow-billed Cuckoo is yet another sign from Bill as you say goodbye to your childen for a while and shore up the might fortress.

Beautiful photos and post. I just love to see Curtis-he looks like he gives as much love as you all give to him.

Not sure whether BT3 ever had "foster dad to turtles" on his earthly CV--but I trust that a note is being added to his dossier at the Pearly Gates. And love and luck to all four of you (JZ, PT, LT, and CL) as you go your separate ways for the nonce. Hoping you're all back together at the beautiful Indigo Hill home base before too long.

Never can get enough of flowers views and dogs! I don't know why I never thought to put lemon verbena and spearmint together for tea. I've got both, I'm going out to get some now -hopefully the deer haven't visited.

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