I’m at my upstairs desk at the cabin enjoying the gentle breezes Earth Mother is breathing through the open windows. Outside, soft morning light filters through the tree canopy. The green smell of growing things drifts up from damp earth and the songs of birds and murmuring melodies of Buck Creek calm my thoughts. I’m feeling very content and present with my life just now.
What is it about this place? I’ve asked myself this a hundred times. In a post from last June titled Dream Symbols of the Beloved, Part II, I wrote: “…every summer for ten years I’ve come here with my sweet friend, a handsome golden retriever whose name was Bear. He passed on last August, but his ashes are in a white box with a label that says ‘Bear Raffa: Faithful Friend’ in the cabinet four feet to the right of where I sit. I cried when I entered the house without him last night. But this morning when I was still in that borderland between sleeping and waking, I heard his joyous bark. Twice. He’s glad I’m back. I’m glad I’m back….Do I need any further reminders from the Beloved of how loved I am and why I love this place so?”
I woke up to the sound of Bear’s bark several times after he died. He was a big, gentle, whoofely kind of dog with extraordinary communication skills. Loud ones! He used to scare the dickens out of my youngest granddaughter when he ran to her with a booming “Whoof!” It took her a while to get used to his way of expressing love.
The stairs to our bedrooms here are half-logs with spaces in between. When Bear was young he managed them easily but that last summer he couldn’t stop his toenails from sliding across and his legs would get hung up in the spaces. At night he wanted to sleep on the sheepskin beside our bed so for a while I carried him up and down; but when he developed a bladder infection I made him a bed near the front door and he’d wake me with his barks. If I fell asleep on the couch while I waited for him to check out the tantalizing night smells he’d bark again to be let back in. There’s no way I could have slept through the force of that blast!
His favorite thing was to go with me to feed the trout. As soon as he saw me heading for the door he’d get there as fast as he could and start barking. The only way to get him to stop was to toss a tennis ball into the yard. Even that last summer he managed to retrieve a few tosses before he had to give up. Meanwhile, by the time we got to the pond, the fish, alerted by his barks, were hungrily patrolling the water by the large rock from where I fed them.
This weekend we buried Bear’s ashes, along with his collar, a kerchief, and a tennis ball, beside the pond. Above him stands a beautiful memorial to our beloved friend who brought structure, love and meaning to my days here. Now his powerful medicine is merged with the benevolent spirit of this land. When it’s my turn, I think I want my ashes buried beside his in this, the most nurturing space I’ve ever inhabited.
If you’d like to know more about the artist whose sculpture guards Bear, check out this website. And thanks, Sam, for inspiring this post.