Many of you may live in large cities, others in the prairie country or mountain states. I think we take for granted the surroundings that shape us and I offer a morning of thoughts from Montana in December 2012.
It has been a dry month with the only snow already piled deep in the mountains. Television commentators are full of doom and gloom about the lack of moisture. It could certainly be a problem for ranchers if the snow pack is insufficient but it looks like it will tumble out of the mountains as usual in the spring of 2013.
Last night, my 12-year-old Golden Retriever wasn’t up to his old self and I watched him closely for signs of arthritis or seizures. We had a house full of family yesterday including a very active retriever who probably pushed my dog to his limits. When I found him sleeping at the head of the stairs I tried to coax him up but he seemed dazed so I covered him with a blanket and talked to him as I always have when he is ailing. He did come outside with me and our Cavalier Spaniel named Cooper and was content to go for a short walk. I made sure the deer were out of the area so there would be no chase. I will be a good nurse for this guy because we are more than owner and animal. Butch has gone around the pasture with me every day for 12 years and we know each others behaviors in very predictable ways. When I lose him, it will be my third dog of this amazing breed. I know in my heart that he is strong and has just suffered sore muscles and sensory overload from yesterday.
As I sit in the dining room looking out at the bird feeders, I am glad the weather has cooperated so the suet boxes could be filled. I cook up about 5 quarts of peanut butter, butter flavored Crisco, corn meal, oatmeal, raisins and song bird seed twice a winter which I freeze and store. When I fill the cages with cakes of this mixture, a lot falls to the ground which the deer and squirrels enjoy.
It has been an awful period of death and destruction on the east coast. I find myself so numbed by the senseless slaughter of children that I can’t stand to turn on the television.I support my wife in her deeply held belief that there is no reason for anyone to own an assault rife. I add the thought that the incredibly violent video games that several generations have grown up with has also contributed to the insanity. Finally, I also agree with the idea that we must remain vigilant. When the child across the road from me was constantly alone I was concerned. When I talked to the mother, she informed me that the young man had been bullied on the school bus and she had chosen to home school him. Her hours with him are inadequate because she works away from the home most of the day. The father has included his son in outdoor activities but has a hard time understanding his son. I am concerned about the child, his social isolation and lack of contact with other children so I am doing what I can to be a visible presence in his life. I have provided him with several subscriptions to magazines, i.e., National Geographic and the Smithsonian so his world gets a bit larger and recently provided him with a model airplane part collection. The gamble was simple. Is he too isolated? Will his lack of socialization lead to a life of confrontation? I will continue to watch and offer help where I can.
I wanted to provide positive thoughts here but I find myself overwhelmed by the violence in our society. I do know that the recent birth of several children in our family and the grandchildren and their children are my primary source of joy in the world. My daughter and her family from Norway will be here for Christmas and we will have many laughs and late night hours getting caught up in each others lives.
Your families are beautiful, intelligent, terribly busy and ready to celebrate the birth of Christ. I will join you in that celebration with Butch at my side.