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A few weeks after Easter we awoke to our youngest daughter scrabbling around in Carmen’s make up bag for eye liner.  She was late for work and ornery.  We were tired from grading fish Saturday night.  We’d gone through maybe fifty-sixty fish and moved half over to the sale section, big, beautiful blues like red snappers only close-up more richly colored, deep blue and red tails and fins.  At our age labor like this is wearying. Awakened to a snarling teenager was startling. An argument ensued.

A day that starts like that is ominous.  We worked the farm, watering, cleaning, feeding, and I graded papers, final exams, very terminal outcomes, high anxiety.  For a break we set up the ride-on to mow the drought driven grass, long rod-like growths resembling nothing like grass but rather untamed stalks needing cutting.  Carmen drove while I walked ahead for obstacles and clutter hidden in the weeds.  One of the farm dogs, a black stray ran alongside. City folk tired of their pets will drop them off in farm areas– probably explaining to their grieving children that the beloved pet had run off– and drive away in the delusion that domestic animals do fine in agricultural areas.  Not so. Wild packs will kill them for food. Sometimes I can hear the snarls and howls of the night dogs feeding. Large farmers will poison them along with raccoons and possums. Many become infected or rabid and die horribly. We take them in, treat and tag and feed them.  Their eyes often never lose a certain sad or tentative expression bred from suffering.

Carmen mowed, I walked the point and the black dog frolicked in the heat and sun. Then, quick as a photo, the dog bolted like a greyhound.  I followed thinking it was chasing a poison toad.  When I caught up it was a bunny the dog had snatched, probably jumped from its nest alarmed by our mower’s motor noise.  The bunny wasn’t bleeding and had some kick left to it but not much and not for long.  It was a beautiful wild thing gray and black markings like tattoos, already dead by the time Carmen and I laid it in a box with a small towel to perhaps recover.

Off in the distance the black dog now had something else down on the ground.  I chased the dog off to find another dead baby bunny.  The dog looked at me as if confused.  I didn’t yell at the canine doing what its blood had told it to do, but neither did I praise the dog for following its instincts.  We put the dog inside and buried the bunnies.

Two dead baby bunnies and a family squabble make for a bad day.  When I mounted the mower to drive it into the barn, one of its big rear tires was flat.  It wouldn’t pump up.  I rolled the mower to shelter and covered it over with a tarp.  I‘d fix it tomorrow.

Gibran tells us that our children come through us but not from us, that they represent Life’s longing for itself and that their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow where we can never visit, not even in our dreams. Life, he says, goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday. Our daughters will have breakfast with us in the morning. The bunnies will be forgotten. It’s best to recognize a bad day, survive it, and start again in the morning if the Good Lord allows.

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