Covid Kitty Campaigns

 

For everyone who’s not quite themselves right now, I offer this cute picture of a cat. Because cat photos are the only thing left in America not full of controversy and political connotations. You can’t have a pet elephant or a pet donkey or let’s put it out there – a dog – these days because people will form immediate conclusions about what you probably eat for breakfast and I just can’t handle that level of stereotyping.

Stop judging me.

I did not ask for this cat, yet the cat is here. In my house. Shredding my curtains. Turning his elegant little whiskers up at the expensive canned cat food I was told I had to feed him. I worry every single day that he will push his way through our second-story window in his effort to eat a woodpecker flying by and while I am eager to feed him the feathery treat, I also don’t want to see the cat splat.

This cat is now personal.

I have some basic questions now that I own a cat.

But mostly I want to know whether cats have the same rights as dogs. For years I’ve thrown a little hissy fit when I see dog owners bring their dogs into the grocery stores, riding in the front of the cart like a kid. They strap the dog’s leash to the table leg in the patio of the cafe and never ask if anyone at the table next to them has a dog allergy. Or is maybe terrified of dogs. Assuming they keep their dogs on the leash, of course. They walk their dogs on the trails, watch them defecate, then mumble something about “picking that up on my way out”. Their dogs go camping with them, get pushed in strollers through the park, wear little “service animal” vests, are allowed to hump your leg and sniff your crotch upon meeting you.

You are supposed to take it for the love it is and say, “Good Doggy.”

Ahem.

While I am not proposing that a cat is the same as a dog is the same as an iguana is the same as a jackrabbit, I am suggesting that my cat should be able to party in the same circles. If my cat can play “fetch” and come when I call him and knows how to keep his little business in a litterbox, it’s only logical that he can go for walks on his leash, play at “dog beach”, or hang out with me at the swanky local cafe.

Wait.

Dog Beach? That feels a little species specific, don’t you think?

And those swanky little cafes have Pup Pops, Puppy Patties, yogurt frosted Pupcakes, soy ice cream cups, Canine Cuisine, and FREE PUPPUCCINOS. Kitty Menu much?

Nuthin.

Are you saying I have to go all the way to Minnesota to enjoy a cat cafe? And if I want to visit an actual beach just for cats, I have to go to Malaysia? Obviously, someone has to be the San Diego trailblazer.

Stop judging me.

Kitty + Harness + Catpack = Adventures

A Whole New World

One Small Step for KittenKind!

How To Pick Your Perfect Pandemic Pet: A Quiz

So far, this year has been the strangest ever and I find myself doing absurd things and passing them off as normal. For example: I have a kitten now.

Pre-pandemic saw me pet-free for a solid twenty years. Why have animals when you have five kids, amiright? Post-pandemic finds me desperate to keep those kids somehow occupied long enough for me to throw a frozen pizza into the oven and open a bottle of pinot grigio. Do NOT talk to me about how these kids are in their twenties. Some things never change.

The kitten was an impulsive decision made in a fifteen minute window wherein I was not thinking clearly but I have to admit, my kids are flocking around this little fluff ball and our long afternoons are now filled with entertaining shouts of, “Look out, it’s crawling under the dresser!” “What’s that in the litter box?” and “Is it supposed to claw my hand into shreds while it drinks the bottle?”

I’m sure I’m not alone when I ask the question: What was the right pet for our family? And is it too late?

If you, too, are feeling like 2020 is the perfect year to bring a new pet into your home, take this handy quiz to discover if you are crazy which pet is your purr-fect pandemic partner.

PICK-A-PET QUIZ

1. Once the work from home orders lift, will your new pet still be able to bite your toe/climb into your pocket/beg for treats whenever the mood hits? What level of interaction do you anticipate having with your pet?

 
 
 
 

2. Look around you right now. Are you quarantined in the city? The country? Your parent’s basement? How much space can you devote to the new tenant?

 
 
 
 

3. Grocery shopping for kibble, mealworms, or live rats might be fun, but either way the food to poop ratio breaks even. How much scat do you want to work with?

 
 
 
 

4. Pets are living creatures. Usually. How many dollars have you put aside for vet bills, so the pet will remain that way?

 
 
 
 

5. What, in your opinion, is the perfect name for your new pet?

 
 
 
 

Knock Knock

Do you know what happens when you self isolate at home? You spend a lot of time staring out your windows, looking for freedom. Instead, you notice things you never noticed before. And because you have the clear understanding that you will continue to stare out this particular window for literally ever into the murky future, you discover something that bothers you. A tiny thing that makes you crazy as time marches on.

You will have to make it go away.

We have acorn woodpeckers that use our palm trees as long term storage facilities. They fly in with a single acorn in their beak and proceed to ram said acorn into the tree. As hard as they can. Wherever it will fit. I don’t know why the acorn isn’t accidentally rammed down their throat in the process or why they don’t have a profound headache afterward. When we trim the palms, bushels of acorns fall out of the frond pockets, exploding like a piñata (Exhibit B). These birds will spend the following days patiently retrieving every single acorn from the ground and ramming it right back into the trees.

I like birds. I’m happy for their stash. If things go south, I will rob their cupboards and make acorn griddle cakes like the native Kumeyaay tribes. But this spring, they went a step too far and began ripping a hole right into the trunk. A big hole, a bird-sized hole,  a community-sized hole with a billiard room attachment (Exhibit A). And this tree is miles tall.

The internet told me to hang sparkly things in the trees to discourage the birds, but all I had at the moment I snapped were shopping bags. I lifted the bags up on the end of a pole and hung them in the shortest palm. They flapped around in the breeze and the woodpeckers spent 24 hours cussing me out before remembering the malls are closed. Then they went back to business.

I replaced the bags with a surprise birthday party. 24 hours later, they were out there singing along with me and doing the limbo rock.

I replaced the birthday party with Christmas decorations. The floating tinsel kept them away for three days before they decided to fill the trees with presents.

I replaced Christmas with floating mylar balloons on a looooong string. This seemed to do the trick. By now, the woodpeckers were out of cuss words and stopped working on the giant hole. But the helium won’t last forever.

If they come back, I have CDs of really bad movies ready to hang. After that, honestly, I’m going down to the local JiffyLube and borrowing their floater guy. You know the one:

Oh yeah. This’ll work. Dance Party.

The woodpeckers have a lot of housing and cupboard options, including Hollywood. Don’t feel sorry for the little vandals. They sit at the top of the cypress tree and laugh at my shortness and wonder when I’m throwing the next party.

I wonder how they feel about disco balls? Lasers? Fog machines? I know a guy with a drone…

Who’s there?

This means war.

Hot pockets. Piñatas full of acorns. Thousands of acorns!

Logical. Everybody hates shopping. Will keep you from pinching free samples.

Fine. Happy Birthday from the ground!

This Is Not Your Happy Place!

Meteors, Grunion, and Other Unicorns

I’m lying on my back on the new outdoor deck we built this year (by “we”, I mean “Hubby”), staring real hard at the night sky. The Perseid Meteor Showers are on this weekend because my recurring calendar says so, and after years of trying to locate it, I have to say, “Bah, humbug.”

They don’t exist.

Not in the Star Wars fantasy that I’m imagining it to be. I’m expecting a version of lightspeed proportions and the stars are just sitting up there, laughing at me. And that’s okay. The air is cool for August and the little chorus of frogs in the creek have gone to bed, replaced by the occasional screech from an invisible owl. The kids, knowing full well that they can’t control the heavens via remote control, went to bed and I feel a little disgruntled only because these are the same guys who insisted that grunion are worth staying awake for.

And grunion aren’t real, either.

A grunion run by the light of a full moon, traced by following Instagram commentary at 1am on a warm summer night, is a fun way to entertain guests. These elusive little silvery fish swarm random beaches to spawn and if you have a fishing permit, you can catch the buggers by hand and put them in a bucket. What you are supposed to do with them next is anyone’s guess, but it doesn’t matter, because no one buys a permit because no one is ever going to find a grunion, let alone touch one, and you spend the wee hours of the morning running from beach to beach with a flashlight and end up at an IHOP getting coffee because it’s the only thing open.

Is that a meteor? No. It’s an airplane. It must be lost. Could be a satellite, maybe.

When I was a kid, I sat up one Christmas Eve, staring out the window, desperately trying to convince myself Santa was real and knowing full well he wasn’t. But, presents. So when a plane went by, red light blinking, I said, “Well, there you go, he’s on the job.” And that would’ve been that, except for after another couple of minutes, an actual UFO went by, defying categorization, and years later, I wonder if it was a Stealth Bomber. I mean, we’re in San Diego.

It’s as possible as the owl that just crossed overhead, a deep black shadow beneath a paler black sky. Massive, silent, beautiful.

Not Santa, so much.

I had a conversation with my kid in the car the other day, and mermaids came up, purely in a scientific way. I mentioned that it was more possible that unicorns were real than mermaids and proceeded to explain the whole lung vs gills issue, followed up with what I thought was an obvious flaw in the system: they must be a fish and only mammals have hair. A real mermaid would have gills, no hair, no nose, and bugging out eyes on the sides of a flatter head. Maybe we’d driven past a Starbucks. The image wasn’t pretty.

This is why my kids don’t hang out with me.

There. That had to be a meteor. It went by fast, over there, in the corner of the sky where I wasn’t really watching. But something moved. Or I blinked. It could have been a shooting star. Oh, whatever.

But a unicorn, that works for me, because my daughter does the tours up at the Safari Park and everyone knows that the scimitar oryx has the body and horns of a unicorn, when it turns sideways, just so, or maybe loses one horn in combat. I’m pretty comfortable with a unicorn myth.

Well, it’s so far past my bedtime that I should start my morning laundry. My back and neck are getting tired.

Wait. What was that? Over there? Oooooooooohhhhhh………

See?

Security Breach

Last week, we woke up and discovered that we had been victims of a home invasion robbery.

Foolishly, we had left the back door open to the night breezes and everyone knows that a flimsy screen door doesn’t stand in the way of a determined burglar.

The door opens onto a balcony and only scaling the walls to the second floor will put you a position to know whether the door was actually open. We thought we were safe.

Afterward, my daughter remembered seeing a movement from the corner of her eye two days prior, a quick shadow in the evening gloom, hanging around our garage and disappearing when she turned to get a better look.

He was casing the joint. Waiting for his moment. Admiring the goodies he imagined were inside.

The dirty rat broke into our home in the wee hours on Monday and took his time wandering around, deciding what he wanted.

I shudder to think we were all deep asleep and heard nothing. What if our bedroom doors had been open? What if we had heard footsteps and gone to investigate? I can only promise you one thing for sure: I would have taken one look and run into the streets shrieking. To my shame, I would have left my family in the house asleep and hailed a cab headed for anywhere else.

I’m helpful like that.

Instead, I staggered into the kitchen that morning and saw the destruction left in this guy’s wake. He obviously took a joy ride through the place. There were big, fat rat droppings everywhere, and puddles that glistened in the early light.

I did an about-face and shrieked for Hubby. Bad enough I had valiantly fought the ants all summer, now we had rodents. Maybe roaches are next. We did find that scorpion once. And termites are common here.

Best to burn the house down and start over with a concrete tilt-up and a gallon of caulk.

What’s the world coming to when you risk dying of plague in your own house?

My sweet Hubbs went into the kitchen while I showered even the thought of rats off of me, and he covered everything in sight with Lysol. All of it. To soak. The droppings got fatter.

He threw away the food that was on the countertops and wiped most of the rat bits from crevices and told the kids that making peanut butter sandwiches for school was totally doable on our new, clean sofa. Probably. Then they all left.

I threw everything in the area made of fabric into the washing machine on the hot wash/extra rinse cycle, and pushed the go button. Shrink if they must, but I’m not carrying leptospirosis into the world on my spandex and starting a pandemic.

What if the rat was still in the house? What if he was hiding under the washing machine waiting to jump me with his sharp little incisors and scratchy scrambly claws when no one was around to save me? The thought kept me motivated. You’ve never seen such discipline. I poured a gallon of bleach and an ounce of water into the mop bucket and shined every bit of floor. The ants were very confused. I considered washing down the walls and ceiling.

There was no police report I could file. I had no witnesses, no suspect in cuffs, no video surveillance, and our alarm system hadn’t been activated that night. Certainly not at three inches above floor level. The police couldn’t help me, but I have the right to bear arms. I loaded up on rat traps.

When we visited the animal shelter three weeks ago, I had looked around for an anteater, which is definitely my first choice of pet, but they mostly had cats and dogs. They did have a horse outside.

And a cage in the lobby.

With a rat in it named Ginger.

Well, Rats

Monday morning we woke up and discovered that we had been victims of a home invasion robbery.

Foolishly, we had left the back door open to the night breezes and everyone knows that a flimsy screen door doesn’t stand in the way of a determined burglar.

The door opens onto a balcony. Only scaling the walls to the second floor will put you a position to know whether the door was actually open. We thought we were safe.

Afterward, my daughter spoke up and remembered that she had seen a movement from the corner of her eye two days prior, a quick shadow in the evening gloom, hanging around our garage and disappearing when she turned to get a better look.

He was casing the joint. Waiting for his moment. Admiring the goodies he imagined were inside.

The dirty rat broke into our home in the wee hours on Monday and took his time wandering around, deciding what he wanted.

I shudder to think we were all deep asleep and heard nothing. What if our bedroom doors had been open? What if we had heard footsteps and gone to investigate? I can only promise you one thing for sure: I would have taken one look and run into the streets shrieking. To my shame, I would have left my family in the house asleep and hailed a cab in my onesie, headed for anywhere else.

I’m helpful like that.

Instead, I staggered into the kitchen seeking my morning revival and saw the destruction left in this guy’s wake. He obviously took a joy ride through the place, leaving a trail of rat scat that was impressive, if marking your territory is what rats do. There were big, fat rat droppings everywhere, and puddles that glistened in the early light.

I did an about-face and shrieked for the Hubby. Bad enough I had valiantly fought the ants all summer, now we had rodents. Maybe roaches are next. We did find that scorpion once. And termites are common here.

Best to burn the house down and start over with a concrete tilt-up and a gallon of caulk.

What’s the world coming to when you risk dying of plague to relax in your own house?

My sweet Hubbs went into the kitchen while I showered even the thought of rats off of me, and he covered everything in sight with Lysol. All of it. To soak. The droppings got fatter.

He threw away the food that was on the countertops and wiped most of the rat bits from crevices and told the kids that making peanut butter sandwiches for school was totally doable on our new, clean sofa. Probably. Then they all left.

I threw everything made of fabric and all of the laundry into the washing machine on the hot wash/extra rinse cycle, and pushed the go button. Shrink if they must, but I’m not carrying leptospirosis into the gym on my spandex and starting a pandemic.

There was no police report I could file. I had no witnesses, no suspect in cuffs, no video surveillance, and our alarm system hadn’t been activated that night. Certainly not at three inches above floor level.

What if the rat was still in the house? What if he was hiding under the washing machine waiting to jump me with his sharp little incisors and scratchy scrambly claws when no one was around to save me?

The thought kept me motivated. You’ve never seen such discipline.

I poured a gallon of Lysol and an ounce of water into the mop bucket and shined every bit of floor. The ants were very confused. I considered washing down the walls and ceiling. If the ants can get there, maybe a rat can? Then I remembered the painters would be painting all of it. I could slip some bleach into the paint cans, easy.

Then I power washed the front porch, the back porch, the walls, windows, doors, and doubled the chlorine the pool, in case the burglar had gone for a casual night swim.

I’ll have to look into a brute squad.

If the police can’t help me, I have the right to bear arms myself.

When we visited the shelter three weeks ago, I looked around for an anteater, which is definitely my first choice of pet, but they stock cats and dogs mostly. They did have a horse outside.

And a cage in the lobby.

With a rat in it named Ginger.

Cats and Colors and Complete Confusion

Just let me sit down for a minute. I can explain. Sort of.

I’ve been trying to pick a paint color for the walls of my house and I can tell you it’s harder than deciding what to name a baby. I might just pour them all into a bucket and swish.

My walls are starting to look like a Lisa Frank Trapper Keeper:

The colors look great on the flippy cards, even the raspberry one (Wazzup), because I’m reading their little printed names in the corner. How can you not choose Folding Chair, Sanskrit, or Oracle?

I almost don’t care what it looks like on a vaulted ceiling if I can tell my stunned guests, “That? Oh, that one is Mosquito Pass. We thought it was fitting. Here’s your mesh hat.The baseboards are a lovely shade of Serpent.”

At some point, those poor painter humans decided to pour words into a bucket and swish because there are colors called, so help me, In Between and Sample Pot.

Completely uninspiring.

I had to walk away for a while because I had the opportunity to assist in a humanitarian effort involving my sister-in-law, pheromones, and cardboard boxes with little holes in them.

She wanted to bust a cat out of the humane society and needed a wingman. That’s me.

The ladies in my life are blessed with an intuition that evades me and watching her walk into the Kitty Corral and choose a lifetime companion was like watching a magic trick.

How did she do that?

The room was full of cats and they all needed furr-ever homes, so my instincts said, “Take any of them home, of course! You can’t mess this up, it’s a good deed.”

A sweet little gray cat immediately began purring up against my legs. She snuggled my hand when I reached down to pet her and began following my sister around the room, trying to catch her eye.

“Paint the walls any color, of course. You can’t mess this up, anything will be an upgrade from what I’m staring at.”

But my sister already had a cat in mind. Her feline of choice was asleep in a cardboard condo, and flat out refused come out to say hello.

“I’ll take him,” she told the lady.

“A million paint colors. They all look the same. Two thousand shades of white. I’ll take this one.”

She circled the cat room again and discovered that her cat of choice had a sister. The girl cat was hiding in a cat tree. When the employee hauled her out and placed her in my sister’s arms, the cat made it very clear that not only was holding an unacceptable form of interaction, but that my sister was the last person on earth that it wanted to go home with. Ever.

It leapt onto a windowsill and scrambled frantically back into the hidey-hole.

“I don’t understand. It says white on the label. Why does it look yellow on the trim? This one isn’t brown, it’s peach. Didn’t the cute little pinterest website glorify this gray? Why is it screaming ‘purple’ at me? Why?

In the meantime, sweet little gray cat was tap-dancing, juggling catnip, and generally rolling around begging my sister to choose it.

“Okay, this is obviously the right one, let’s paint the walls in Riviera Beach.”

My sister turned to the employee, “I’ll take the sister cat, too, she’s a sweetheart.”

She saw the appalled look on my face.

“I knew it the minute I held her,” she insisted, “I could just tell.”

“Hm. Well, it looked great in the hall. Not so much in the living room. Maybe we will grow to love it. Maybe if we put enough art and furniture around it, we’ll get used to it being in the house.”

Darned if I don’t keep bringing home the wrong cat. Er, color.

I held this many paint pots:

They all tried frantically to escape my walls.

Why? Why can’t I ‘just tell’?

Meanwhile, my sister is settling in with two beautiful cats who adore her now.

They are named “Boy” and “Lola”.

So help me.

Rattled

Confession is good for the soul.

Fairly rotten for the backside, if you’re being raised in a spanking-type house, but still, it feels good to get it off your chest so to speak.

I haven’t seen the inside of my gym for a month and a half.

I think it’s the longest I’ve ever gone AWOL and my soul, backside, chest and other random anatomy bits are all the slightly worse for it.

My new fasting diet at work is helpful, of course, but there came a day this week when I simply had to get off my nantucket and move. And not indoors, I wanted sunshine and fresh air.

I came home from work, tossed on my tennies, and headed for the trails. Five minutes into the run walk, I was on the phone with a girlfriend, because I’ve also been a little AWOL with my peeps. Then the Hubby called. I may have some catching up to do in my life. My poor mom probably thinks I’m dead.

But hey, we all went for a run walk together, so there’s a start.

Every once in a while, I noticed tracks in the dusty trail:

Everyone in SoCal knows what this means, and as I jogged chatted I began scanning the immediate area with growing concern.

There was another one every quarter mile or so.

A couple thin, erratic tracks could have been baby hypodermics; every twig was suspect. “Babe,” I said into the phone, “I gotta go. Need to do some jumping jacks.”

Somewhere in the last month and a half, I must have blinked because summer was here and with it, snakes.

These tracks were made by grand-daddies. Recently. Like maybe five minutes ago.

I was nearing the end of my route when I came around a bend in the road and stopped cold had a cardio event. The western diamondback wasn’t crossing the trail in a leisurely loopy way. He was motivated. He was hunting. And I was suddenly between him and his destiny. He came toward me for a moment or two, but sensing that I was one with Nature  about to play Run and Scream, he continued across and up the bank.

 

Can you see him? I was almost three feet away before I realized the dead grass/dirt combo was slithering. That is some serious camo. I whimpered while waiting for a chance to go home and hide under the bed. He made me writhe, tolerate, endure his superiority for-agonizing-ever.

The minute his business end went into the chain link fence, I started edging my way past.

 

He stopped and gave me a withering, backwards glance. “Coward,” he seemed to say, “had you been running instead of posing, we would have had a different encounter altogether.”

“Yes, yes,” I babbled to him in my head, “don’t I know it. I’ll go back to the gym and stay there! 20 push-ups yoga stretches and a Zumba class cooking channel hour, honest! I don’t even like fresh air!”

Realizing how close I’d come to death by exercise, I covered the last of my 5K like a wary ninja, scanning the trails, peering into brush, startling at every rustle, my cell phone weapon ready.

This little guy popped out and I almost karate-chopped a dead pine tree in my haste to defend myself not be physically touching the ground. When I climbed back down, he was still there, pretending to be part of the shrubbery.

Nope. Sorry little dude. You are definitely in plain sight, and the rattler is definitely going to swallow you up whole. I tried to carry him home with me, but hares aren’t known for their brains in the way that keeps them from being way down low on the food chain.

This was the last track I found before completing my workout with a final sprint finally kissing the civilized asphalt:

I want to believe the gopher plugged up his hole when he saw doom slithering his way, and the snake was stuck eating salad for dinner. And I don’t even like gophers.

Please. Let’s none of us tell my mother about this.

Humdinger

Flowers come into their glory this month, adored by the bees, the butterflies, and the hummingbirds.

The skies in which they soar turn azure, opal, and amethyst by turn.

And in the alcove of our front doorway, a hummingbird nested.

It was a marvelous little egg cup, woven of spider silk and fairy threads, a bit of lichen and delicate downy dryer lint.

 

She was quite industrious, pressing and shaping her aerie with her wings and breast and feet, until it was exactly right for her family.

She didn’t know I was watching.

 

Once she began leaving the nest again, my attempts to photograph the contents were tricky. The nest was too deep to see eggs, but eventually, dark elbows and chins began to wiggle.

 

Mama flew constantly, feeding the babies. I could clearly see two sets of beaks open wide.

 

Eventually, the twins grew large enough to peek over the side of their bed.

 

And then they could sit up and see properly.

 

As they sprouted feathers and stretched their shared bedroom to capacity, mama no longer needed to sit on top of them. They kept each other warm and sat perfectly still as our spring break multitudes passed by, coming and going through our front door.

Although the wee birds watched them closely, very few of our visiting revelers knew about the tiny sentinels at our front door.

The little ones grew to the size of your thumb. Their bedroom began looking like any teenagers’. Mama sat off to one side and scolded me when I tried to take a photo. I don’t blame her.

 

Some things don’t need to be shared in blogs.

But her pretty babies started getting their color.
And then they began to perch on the edge of the nest and vibrate their wings.

 

And one fine day, baby number one took off, never to be seen again.
We don’t know where he went, but we’re sure mama followed to find out.

Because two days after, baby number two jumped.

He didn’t go further than one branch over. But he seemed pleased as punch about it.

 

Over the next week or so, he levitated from twig to twig, mama following him anxiously and filling him up with nectar. He preened his budding wings and stayed sheltered in our doorway, eyeing us now as family members and posing for the camera.

 

Once in a while, he managed to land back in his battered nest, but the well-worn refuge never felt quite as comfortable again.

 

Which is why, when Hubby opened the door to get a pair of shoes yesterday, the little hummer flew right into the house to take a tour.

I’m pretty sure trading up was his thought, and if I hadn’t seen what he did to his old home, I might have been delighted with the prospect.

As it was, his mama and I were yelling at him from both sides of the open front door, and in the confusion, he went straight up into the skylight, sidestepping our discipline.

I couldn’t watch.

Hubby got the pool net extended as high as he could reach, and when the baby finally wore his poor little self out and landed on it, Hubby gently set him back on the front porch.

Baby Hummer was covered in cobwebs. He let Hubby pull the worst of it from his trembling back, then we closed the door so his mama could do the job thoroughly.

Today, mama has moved him off to the big trees. I can hear them chattering away and see a flash of emerald between the boughs now and then as they enjoy the golden spring sunshine… now flowing through a thoroughly cleaned skylight.

 

Cheeky bugger.

Requiem for a Tree

Dearly beloved,

We are gathered here to today to ponder the question, “Does Tony Stark, in fact, have a heart?” while taking our hats off in remembrance of a tree.

Magnificent in stature, operatic in breezes, dropping sap and pinecones in bountiful benevolence, this beauty was the beacon of home to a neighborhood for years uncounted.

 

Her roots wound into the sewer line were merely the caresses of an underground lover, as she attempted to extract all the goodness that life has to offer.

We bow our heads in somber acknowledgment that that which God has grown is mightier than that which man has flushed, and we forgive her checkered past.

Her delicate needles drifted daily into the rain gutters of nearby houses, blanketing the street, the water main, the mailman, with evergreen confetti.

Alas, for the trees.

In the black of night, a storm howled in.

Shrieking with effort, she fought the gale as it grasped and writhed and bent her boughs in a contest of wills.

In the aura before sunrise, she stood yet, victorious, dripping with exertion, the enemy vanquished.

But the struggle had done it’s foul business, and though she had lost a great deal of weight, her proud limbs began to fail. She bent over and leaned on the driveway for support.

The call of gravity was a new experience, and what could not be accomplished from without was slowly being completed from within.

When the men drove up, a truck full of surgeon’s implements in their skilled wake, she did not resist.

They were swift and complete.

She passed thinking of wood nymphs and hummingbird nests.

Of redwood forests by the sea and steaming Amazon canopies that she would never know.

She wondered how many rings she had around her heart.

She left an empty space in our lives, never to be replaced.

Or else.

Do not mourn, dear friends, for a life well lived. A life that gave comforting shade on a hot day, a life that gave the wind a voice, a life that provided endless Saturday morning chores.

Her memory will live on in the hearts of dozens of fireplaces for many years yet.

She continues to be an inspirational light to all who contemplate her glowing last gifts.

We are better for having known her.

And we are better for having let her go.