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A SS2019 story: What I didn't find under the woodpile

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Location: Oregon

PostPosted: Mon Feb 23, 2009 11:07 pm    Post subject: A SS2019 story: What I didn't find under the woodpile Reply with quote

What I didn't find under the woodpile

You'll never be like them, she said. But I'm not so sure.

By my philosophy, I ought to be grateful. They revealed my helplessness to me and reminded me of my own rage. They schooled me up good. But then I'm making it all about me again. "Chance" was the one that took a bullet, and for what? A little food and fuel we could've offered, would've offered, if they'd only asked nicely. But no, they came at night, and with guns.

I'll spare the details of that night. It's in the report, and a lot of it was even captured in the webcam, of all things. These days seem just so crazy. The horse and buggy are making a comeback, but kids in New Zealand monitor my webcams! They somehow found a link to Jacob, living in the old Clarno Grange hall, and he, well, like I say, it's in the report. "Chance" is doing okay. They tell me six weeks in a sling and he'll be just like new, but I know that's not right. He'll carry that night in his arm the way that I do in my heart.

For the last three days I've been worse than useless. Tina's been taking care of "Chance" in town, and everyone else seems to know to leave me alone. I feel like I'm a baby again, trying out those elemental strategies. What do you do when nothing you do works? How many times do I need to be confronted by these lessons? To see that fellow, Holmbrook, shot by the sheriff, right in front of my eyes? He'll be speaking only in the language of flowers soon enough, but what about the Holmbrooks to come?

Like a fool who is in over his head, I've gone through seemingly every emotion in sequence, each just long enough to conclude that nothing would've made a difference that night, nothing except becoming ready to kill, and that is not a change that I want. Despite all our preparations, and despite the fact that things turned out much better than we had any reason to expect, I find myself shamed at not being truly prepared to protect the ones I love and depend upon, my little barony of strays.

For some reason, I keep thinking about the fall and winter before I moved out here, ten years ago. I'd had a good run with a few ventures, but I'd reached that age where you get an accumulation of deaths and disease amongst family members of the previous generation, as well as friends who'd taken a wrong turn. The result, for me, was a kind of paralysis of the will. Just that day the Vet had diagnosed 17 year old Abby with kidney disease, and while I wondered what to think about medical procedures and small animals, she wandered off to die, alone, in the night.

Of course, I searched and called, for days, but the one place I didn't look was under the woodpile. As the weeks and months went by, it became so that I was afraid of what I might find there. One bright and cool day, I finally felt strong enough. I moved the woodpile closer to the house, looking carefully as I got near the bottom. No cat. It amazes me that we can derive so many different emotions from a single source. Somehow, I gained strength, not from what I didn't find there, but from the act of looking. That strength ultimately led me to my current homestead, and to this moment. Can it really be that I need to be prepared to kill to defend my family? I keep thinking about the lesson of what I didn't find.

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