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

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©Katherine Dunn.

Sunday, December 01, 2019

Leaves let go so must we

"Getting old isn't for sissies", my mother used to say. But, like my mother, Sophie puts one foot in front of the other and keeps going, keeps doing what her body wants to do even if it is limited.

A day go, I went to feed the goats in the front stall area, nine of them varying in health and age. Sophie is the oldest in that group and despite the condition she was born with and crippling effects of it, she is not a pushover. But a few days ago I noticed Sophie seemed a bit weaker than her normal state, and yesterday as I walked into the stall, and all the goats circle around and tried to position themselves, Sophie was unable to lift herself up.

I helped her and she seemed fine, but I knew this is a new stage of her elder years.

After my chores were down at the outer barn, I came back to find Sophie cast, outside her barn, laying in wait for me to help her. I got her up and held her and she seemed okay, but she also seemed tired.

I assumed that the slight incline of the terrain there, and the other goats rushing about and bumping into her, caused her fall. So I moved her out to the area where Opie lives with his few chickens, The Goose, and the very elder and frail Else the goat. I was pleased to see Sophie out in the sun this morning, The Goose escorting her around. The Goose and Sophie have a fragile relationship in that The Goose over care takes her sometimes, and then Sophie grabs at his feathers. If I find a clump of feathers, and then find The Goose hiding in the hay room, sullen, I know they have had a slight encounter. It is actually both funny and heartbreaking, as he looks like he really has hurt feelings, and I pick him up and tuck his head into my coat [geese love this swanning position]. No harm is ever done and when I put him down, he waddles off back to his happy Goose self, like a little child who cried over spilled milk but cheers up the instant Mom dries his tears.

You know we have no control of death, or much else. And you know my rule is to not ask any creature to 'not die on me', {note: I have failed at this on occasion} but I have to say I don't want her to die, not yet. But someday she will. They all will. You take the old ones on and you know this. You take the young ones on too and know this but it isn't presented to you on arrival. But you still have to talk yourself down sometimes, reminding yourself what you already know, that there are signs she is transitioning. And even though it might not be this week, or this month, I don't get to pick the date when I say, "Okay, I am prepared now, take her if you must."

Nature is not interested in us being ready for anything. Nature is Nature and allows herself to just be. She doesn't judge us but she doesn't listen to our needs, she is just Nature, there to teach us that leaves let go, and fall, and die, and feed worms and dirt.