Tag Archive | forest flowers

This Week in Tiny Lives

Her name is Wren. It came to me last week as I pondered “Ready,” which she responded to, and “Fen,” which I kind of liked better. Then those two merged into Wren, a sweet, delicate, little brown bird. Wrennie. She doesn’t know it starts with a different letter than Ready, and she came to it immediately; maybe thinking I’d developed a sudden speech impediment with that middle consonant.

Then, several people said, “Oh, like Ren and Stimpy?” What’s that? I had no idea there was a cartoon about some revolting creatures called “Ren, an emotionally unstable and sociopathic Chihuahua; and Stimpy, a good-natured yet dimwitted cat.” So no, NOT like that Ren; like a canyon wren, or a house wren, or a Carolina wren…

In the woods, May is the blooming month. Lots of little lives burgeoning.

Topaz is adapting to walks with Wren, and continues to examine the kittens from a few feet away now and then, but mostly just continues to live her prima donna life, going about her routine with her pretty little nose in the air.
Wren is fascinated with the kittens, as they are with her. When I open the crate to bring them out to eat, she is right there, and helps corral them as they scatter.
After his setback, Smokey went back on the bottle for a few days, but is now eating a slurry of canned kitten food mixed with formula.

Little Tigger fluctuated between eating well and gaining a bit, then losing weight. Last Wednesday he seemed listless. We had an appointment with a vet for the next day, and I had to go to the audiologist that afternoon, so I called a local foster expert, and she suggested giving him straight honey with a syringe. I did that for a couple of doses and he vomited after each dose. I cut back the dose and lengthened the interval and he seemed to keep it down and perk up. That night I offered him the food/formula slurry and he ate it well. Thursday morning he ate well again. I took them all to the vet with some stool samples, and the diagnosis was that he was “loaded with parasites.” He was also tested for FIV, and fortunately was negative. They gave him subcutaneous fluids to hydrate him. All three kittens were dosed for parasites, and we were sent home with medicine to administer daily for a week.

Tigger ate well Thursday and Friday, cleaning his own bowl and finishing off Smokey’s when he left some in it. I was so relieved to have him sorted out and on the mend. This morning, when I came down at seven, he lay limp in the corner as his brothers climbed and called for breakfast. I set them in their boxes with food, and picked up the tiny boy. It was clear to me that he was dying. I cradled him in my shirt and sang to him. He lay there, softly ticking… I thought it was a death rattle. After awhile, it dawned on me that it was a slow-motion purr.

I remembered Foster Friend telling about holding a dying puppy on her chest overnight, dosing it with honey, and how it came back to life. I thought about dehydration. I mixed a little water with maple syrup, and began to drip little bits into his mouth. He swallowed, his eyes brightened; I thought either I was prolonging his agony or I was reviving him. When I saw him lick his paw, I committed to the revival story. For the next few hours I gave him intermittent drips of fluid. He meowed a few times, yowled a few times, rested quietly, swallowed more, looked up at me… As I meditated and then talked with friends on zoom, he got very quiet and still. By the end of our conversation he was dead. I wrapped him in a cotton square, and buried him in the garden with Stellar.

I felt sad. I’m grateful for the skill of equanimity. Through the morning I kept things in perspective. Even as he lay warm and loved against my heart, there were thousands of kittens around the world dying of parasites in awful surroundings; there were human babies suffering malnutrition, neglect, and worse; there were species going extinct, and wars ravaging lives and cultures; there were politicians lying and corporations conniving; there were good people dropping dead in the prime of their life, and a pandemic surging again with a new, even more contagious variant. In a world of suffering, I loved a tiny kitten through his short little life and his inevitable death. It wasn’t much, but it was something.

Meanwhile, more little lives continue sprouting in the garden. The first potato leaves emerge from mulch as tiny peach buds open. I turn my attention to the ample beauty and life that remains to be nurtured as the garden rollercoaster ramps up…

Orange tulips gladden the end of a raised bed…
…and the crabapple tree glows gloriously.

Choices

Had it been warmer and sunnier, I imagine this first jonquil bud might have opened. Still, grateful to see its nodding little sleepy head.

Today was so cold, grey, and windy relatively speaking, and I had so much computer work to do, that it was a great day to stay inside. I’m grateful for choices. I left the patio pot filling and potato planting for tomorrow. I’ve caught up on all my work assignments, and now I have the rest of the week to finish coursework, and plant potatoes, and simply sit in the joy of pure being in this little sphere of influence. 

Probably about time to bring the cacti out. Listen to those fat cows bellowing! Where will I put potatoes? Here’s a stray marker. What happened to the parsley? When will the sweet peas emerge? Give them time, time. Those hard dry pea seeds need to soften, relax into the ground where they’re now dwelling before they’re willing to burst their fragile boundaries and reach upward to the light.

OK, I see I’ll have to make time to simply sit this week. There’s always something new, something more, to do in the garden, or some question to consider. Not just in the garden, in the woods as well. The sphere of my influence has slowly extended outward, like the proverbial ripples on a pond, at a glacial pace. Almost thirty years here, how little I still know, yet how familiar I am with this land. Deer trails criss-cross the slope of this ancient alluvial fan. The first wildflowers are in bloom, shy buckwheats. I’ve watched these little pinions grow from seedlings to saplings, then all in a cluster turn brown and die. They’ve been a landmark first as they grew, ah yes, this is where I am, this is how far from home and which direction, and now as standing dead. Will I cut them? Will I leave them? I feel they should all be cut, taken out, this space opened for something less flammable.

But for now, it’s time to decorate cupcakes. Choices.

Last night I baked, and this evening I made cream cheese buttercream frosting, all so I could practice piping skills. Just because I burned through all episode of the Great British Baking Show doesn’t mean I lost interest. I mixed four colors, and put them in the fridge to chill since previous experience taught the frosting is too soft at room temperature.
Then we went for our evening walk, longer than expected since Stellar did so well! And Topaz tagged along as usual recently, playing hide and seek with herself behind us. See her in the sagebrush, lower left? The hills and rills of this landscape resemble soft folds of fabric fanned out.

Back inside, as the sun set, Topaz and Stellar slept, while I frosted zucchini-chocolate cupcakes, trying out nozzles and techniques for the third time since I chose this skill to learn. I’m getting better with the roses, and discerning which patterns which nozzles make, and how to squeeze and twist the bags. What’s happened to green food coloring since fifty years ago? Who chose to make it neon green? Eew. I chose to stop after eight cupcakes as the frosting softened and roses sagged. Where’s the eighth cupcake? Well… I’m grateful for choices – it was delicious!

Another Day

One tiny monarch crocus hard hit by the last storm, but more buds emerge.
The first grape hyacinths bloom in the blue bed

I’m grateful for oncoming spring in the garden, and for precipitation that keeps nourishing the tiny bulbs pushing their flowers up here and there. I’m grateful to see the first leaves emerging from the forest floor, though most of the green shoots are weeds; I’m not sure what this little red cluster will become. I’m grateful for another day walking with Stellar among ancient junipers sculpted by centuries of seasons and stressors. I’m grateful for another day sculpting myself by choosing where I place my attention.

Along the trail through the woods a little mystery emerges, about the size of a quarter. I can’t wait to see what this is!

I’m grateful for another chance to try my hand at orange sticky buns, which turned out just as well the second time. The dough seemed really wet and was hard to maneuver, and there was a little too much filling (as if!) ~ but they baked beautifully. Anyone who might happen to come to prune my fruit trees in the next couple of days, or to deliver groceries ~ and I’m grateful for anyone who might! ~ will surely go home with some sticky buns. I’m grateful every day for where I live, for so many reasons. I’m grateful for good neighbors of all species.