Apifera Farm - where art, story, animals & woman merge. Home to artist Katherine Dunn

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Monday, August 24, 2015

Priscilla says goodbye and all is as it should be



It appears that Priscilla, the old goose that lived a long and good goose life, has returned herself to Earth.

I have no physical proof of this. She is not to be found. And now I must tell you that while I will miss her, and it is always sad to say goodbye, I am relieved-for both her, and me. It was time.

She was fading in many ways over the past year, but especially this fading was noticeable in the last months. She had lost weight, was less able to right herself quickly if she toppled forward, and she had no interest in the one remaining Bottomtum-the original ducks she used to protect.

In the past couple months, she had begun separating herself from the main barnyard, and squeezing under the main gate so she could wonder into the yards, and fields and drive below, looking for berries, or remaining water in the stream. Initially, this was all fine, she would waddle back around five and I would pick her up and bring her to bed down with her duck.

But in time, she would not be at the gate at her designated hour and I would have to wander the fields and bramble to find her. She used to always respond to my "Wack! Wack!" goose call, but perhaps her hearing was fading too. In the past week, I noticed that when I did go and retrieve her–which was becoming a nightly task–and I would carry her up to the barn, she would rest her neck and head onto my face. While Priscilla was never ornery, in her younger elder years [she arrived here at age 20] she never did this.

While I knew her body was failing her, and that this small act of resting her face to mine could be seen simply that her energy was fading, I also instinctively knew she was going to leave soon, and she was telling me. It might be a day or more, but I knew her days were ending. The ducks that left before her kept wanting to return to the natural water of the stream in their final days, rather than there beloved water bucket they were so fond of.

"Just letting you know, I'm getting ready," she said.

So yesterday I greeted her around noon while she was in the shallow bramble by Old Barn. This was a usual spot for her. I went about my business. By evening, I looked for her, calling, and traveling around the fields and dried out stream at all the many places she would frequent. There was no sign of her, her honking or her feet crunching dried leaves below her. I found not a feather. I waited an hour and took Martyn out on another walk about. I even went to places I highly doubted she would have gone to, but saw nothing. This morning, I looked again, and checked all of Old Barn thinking she might have dropped in there.

It's been brought to my attention that some people might have a hard time continuing to read my blog and updates, due to the fact that a creature is always dying at some point. In a way, this saddens me, as it means I have not done my job as a storyteller, I have not expressed properly that death is not to be seen as the opposite of life, it is the balancing arm of life, it is part of life. Priscilla was not walking around eating blackberries, fending off death, she was being a goose, living as a goose. Somewhere, an old goose is truly returning to earth.

I can understand how a loyal reader of this blog might get tired of the deaths-they read and fall in love with certain characters or animals, and one by one after ten years, those creatures start to die. They are most likely dealing with deaths of people they love int heir own real lives, so when they come here for some humor and story, more death might make them hit the pause button. I suppose it would be like if The Waltons television show–which I loved–went on and on into the elderly years of the young children and one by one they started dying-it might be too much to swallow.

Part of me, mind you, for seconds only, thought, Maybe I should just write fiction from now on and never really mention the deaths, maybe readers deserve only a happy place.

I'll keep writing about death when it happens-it's my experience here. And maybe in time, I won't.

And there are worse things than death. Life is the hard stuff, in my opinion, in all its messy glory. Suffering is hard, pain and fear are hard. Loss is a process for the survivor to overcome, but for me, the actual last moment of death is a door into Nature.

Priscilla is now where she is meant to be at this exact time. She was over 24 years old. Looking back on the photos of her arrival, I can see how old she looked in the past few months. The coloring of her orange globe was fading, and her body was losing mass. It's possible she just lay down, and her long, beautiful Grace Kelly neck, naturally reclined on the ground.

Postscript:  I looked up the symbolic meaning of an encounter with a goose:
 

You are being reminded that we often take on the quests of our peers and family without stepping back and discerning whether or not this is something that we ourselves would wish to pursue. Make sure that the path you are currently following is your own and look deeply into your heart to ascertain that the choice is yours and not what someone else has wished upon you.

Alternatively the quest you are currently on is about to take an abrupt change of course. Know that this is only a temporary thing and that you will soon be back on your chosen path.

5 comments:

barbara said...

Catherine, for me death is part of life, a continuation of what we are. While I am sorry for your loss of Priscilla, I would never want you to stop writing about your life on your wonderful farm. Perhaps some of the people who object have never lived so close to nature, the great teacher .Please continue to write of your life as it happens.

Katherine Dunn said...

Thanks Barbara-it wasn't so much someone objected, it is more that some people have a hard time reading it [even though they may love my writing and art here], that's all. It just gave me pause. But as you say, I will continue to write what is in my life-which includes death. Thanks for writing.

pencilfox said...

i'm enjoying ALL your posts, especially the ones about death that happens at apifera. death is part of life. and too many people want to pretend that death just doesn't exist. [did that make sense??]

keep up the excellent writing, katherine!

and i wanted to say, this happened to me a couple times with my sled dogs. they just sorta....disappeared.... i believe animals KNOW.

xx

Katherine Dunn said...

I do think living on the farm, or closer to Nature allows us to examine death differently. I know I have expanded my comfort level of death by being here, and dealing with the elders, and the other natural deaths from eagle strikes etc. I would never expect anyone to just accept it like I do now...but I do think we should have more things in school for kids, teens, and young and middle aged adults-that we get back to living amongst our elders and experience death as an integral part of society, culture and our families and animals. Nature, nature, nature. And if I lost Benedetto and Marcella to the unknown...it would be very very hard, as accepting as I am of the concept, and even if they were old and I knew it was time....it would be hard, but, knowing Marcella, this might be her way, but she will tell me I know.

rose808594 said...

i love you

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Thank you for reading! The farm and my art/writing keep me hopping, so might not respond immediately. Thank you for understanding. ~Katherine & Apifera ~