Thursday, September 22, 2011

from the prairie's edge: big, deep day

"O bury me not on the lone prairie."
These words came low and mournfully
From the pallid lips of the youth who lay
On his dying bed at the close of day.
- old cowboy folk song

This day, the day of which I now write, happened almost a month ago, but it felt like enough of a doozy to lay down on Blogville. It was while Barb was here, and it was extra thick with profoundness. We sloshed through the realms of theology, history, the cycle of life and death, and physical survival against wild animals, walked on the border between two countries, and closed out our day with a tradition as old as man. By day's end, my head was spinning and my heart heavy, so it must've really been something for a two and a half year old. I should record it in Zoralee's baby book as "The Deepest Day Ever." That is, when I [cough] start working on her baby book...

The first thing happened while I was sitting on the porch with the kids. I was holding Ziah in my lap, and Zoralee was ahead of me by 10 feet. Out of the woods at the edge of our yard jogged a coyote, straight for the porch, straight for Zoralee. I told Zoralee (firmly, but I thought pretty calmly for the circumstance) to come to me, which she inexplicably did at warp speed, though she hadn't seen the coyote. He was gray white, so fluffy and healthy. My first thought was how beautiful it was. He heard my voice, looked straight at me, turned, and jogged back down the path. He was within 25 yards. As soon as Kaladi caught a whiff of the coyote, her hair went up and for 10 minutes she alternately ran around the property and back to check on us. The wind was so strong, loud and swirly, that I don't think the coyote knew we were there until he got that close. And Kaladi had a hard time with his scent because of the wind. He may have been coming to her food dish, so we now keep that inside at night. 

Jason was sleeping and Barb was running an errand in town, so we were the only witnesses. That was event #1, certainly the most startling. Also on the porch during that couple of hours, we observed and talked about a dead dragonfly caught between two boards, and we watched a butterfly struggle in a spider's web, knowing the probable ending to that particular predicament.

When Jason woke up, we all took a road trip into the Turtle Mountains, up to Lake Metigoshe to see all the little lake cabins and dwellings. It was a busy weekend, so all the restaurants were full. We ordered food at a drive-in and sat by the lake to eat. Then it was back down to the plains, where we visited an old historic church, then the long drive home. 
on the shore of Lake Metigoshe - sand castle in the background created by Z and Papa

Zoralee asking, "Where is God?"

We spent quite awhile wandering around the graveyard, again talking with Zoralee about death, and about remembering the dead. Families were buried near each other, some members born a century or more apart, never to have met, some making it into old age and others living a single day. To walk so lightly on the grass above their graves, to read their names and try to fathom the same fate befalling us, even our precious tinies, is frankly too much to bear. My eye is on the Eternal, but dang, those old gravestones seem to hold hope down by the chest, hold her strong to the cold, wet mud.

Then we came home and made fire. Fire is good. Little fires don't suggest that you ignore the cold world all around, but they offer a space to get warm, quiet yourself and regroup.


Rachel Clear @ Clearly Speaking said...

Beautiful thoughts, sis. The coyote incident still freaks me out. And it's weirder than weird that Zoralee actually listened to you and came running. That certainly isn't her usual response. Makes me think she sensed something too, maybe sensed something in your voice.

I love how in the photo right after Zoralee asked where God was, you can see Jason sitting in the classic Jason explaining something pose, complete with hand gesture.

Rena said...

Deep post, but I bet Zoralee will remember all of it. I love the picture of her with her hands on her hips (or where her hips should be,)and I can just imagine her voice asking where God is, and expecting you either to produce him or to admit that he isn't there.☺ Beautiful pictures and word pictures. They make me feel almost like I was there with you. I wish I had been!

SteveBaliko said... your words so much..."My eye is on the Eternal, but dang, those old gravestones seem to hold hope down by the chest, hold her strong to the cold, wet mud." I've walked through many a graveyard in my day and this is one of the finest sentences describing the tension of tombstones...thanks for taking the time to write beautifully.