Yesterday morning as the sun was rising, I stepped outside…and peered into what seemed a primordial mist that was enveloping the trees surrounding me…with a soft orange glow in the East. The unusually mild air foretold an unexpected taste of Spring…in January. It did turn out to be a beautiful day…a welcomed interlude from the cold weather we’ve been having lately. By mid-afternoon, the sun was warm…and there was a peacefulness in the air that defies description…the best of Autumn…and Spring…in one new, short, ethereal season occurring in mid-Winter…here in the Carolinas. Half-expecting trees to blossom forth at any moment in the warm, moist humid air…along with the pungent-sweet scent of burning leaves.
It was not to be wasted. I quickly grabbed Belle, and we went for a drive through the countryside…windows open…lapping up the nectar borne on the winds of this strange new season. Belle…thoroughly enjoying herself…
riding shotgun…glancing at me from time to time…“Is this for real?”
When it was time to turn around and make our way back…we took the long way home.
Belle has always had this strange (and rather annoying) habit of scratching away at the carpet with her front paws before she lays down…as if she was digging a hole in the dirt. I’ve heard that this is a common habit for many dogs…that they’re just, “making their bed in which to lie.”
When Belle does this, I remind her that she really doesn’t need to do that…that she needs to “just pick a spot and lie down already!” At this point, she obediently stops…briefly looks up at me…and then puts her head back down and resumes the scratching in earnest. After about the third admonition, she finally plops down, and lets out a heavy sigh…mission accomplished.
It’s hard to imagine where this behavior is coming from. I know…it’s instinct. But how exactly is this instinct passed down from generation to generation. Belle has never…to my knowledge…ever observed another Pomeranian, or any other dog for that matter, digging a hole in the dirt before lying down. Why does she think it’s necessary? Is it in her genes then? If so…that’s even more mind boggling.
I recall reading a fascinating book many years ago by biologist Rupert Sheldrake called, The Presence of the Past: Morphic Resonance and the Habits of Nature, in which he hypothesized the presence of something called a morphic field, which is a kind of collective unconscious, or repository, of shared behaviors common to, for example, a certain species of animal. Where this morphic field exists is the even more intriguing question. I can’t help but think that Belle, who belongs to the group called dog (more specifically, Pomeranian), might somehow be tuning in to the morphic field that contains the whys and wherefores of that particular behavior in which she’s engaging.
And then this leads me to another, rather unsettling question. Are there things…behaviors…that I’m mindlessly doing, of which I have no knowledge?
Let nothing disturb you,
Let nothing frighten you,
All things pass away:
God never changes.
~ Teresa of Avila
It’s gotten a lot quieter around here the last few days. After an unexpected…and extremely short illness…Tinker (one of my two Pomeranians) died Tuesday night after having surgery. It’s left me quite flummoxed…and has…again…renewed my intense awareness of how transitory and ephemeral life really is. Last week at this time…she was spinning…whirling around, anticipating a little treat…with eyes open wide in simple pleasure. Now…there’s just…silence. I’ve even noticed Belle looking around…staring at nothing in particular…as if trying to recall something…or someone… that might be missing. Something not quite right with her surroundings.
There is a veil before our eyes…seemingly impenetrable at the moment. All thing pass away…bad things that we have to endure for a while…as well as good things that we hope will never end. Only God…the very ground of our being…endures…and only in Him, do we have hope.
I’m becoming a regular at the animal hospital in town. Seems like every Saturday, after I take the trash to the recycling center…it’s then off to the vet with one of the dogs. This week it was Tinker. She had to have her blood checked again to see if she was getting the proper dosage of Soloxine for her hypothyroidism. She’s also been scratching a lot lately, so I thought I would have the Doc look her over. Saturdays are walk-ins only…and when I opened the door to the clinic, it was packed with dogs and cats waiting their turn. There were three Pugs sitting next to Tinker and me. They had their eyes glued on us, and I half-expected one to break the ice and say, “Well what are you staring at?” Ever since I saw the movie Men in Black, Pugs give me the willies.
Everyone seemed to be amused by the way Tinker emits a growl whenever a BIG dog enters the room. For her diminutive size…she’s fearless. A big dog in a little dog’s body. And she’s not afraid to show her displeasure when other dogs get a little too familiar.
Two hours later…Tink and I were ushered into an examination room, where a young woman whisked her off to draw some blood. About twenty minutes later, the Doc came in and looked Tink over. “Probably springtime allergies”, he said…her skin being a bit reddish and inflamed, leading to the scratching. Short of going through the whole process of testing for specific allergies, we determined the best plan of action would be to give her that modern-day wonder drug…Benedryl (curiously, the Over-the-Counter drug Diphenhydramine is somewhat of a cure-all that helps relieve allergies, acts as a sleep aid…I take it myself sometimes…and can also be used by desperate parents to calm rambunctious toddlers. I find this strangely comforting…).
So…last Saturday, Belle and Tinker had an appointment at the dog groomers, where they got their Summer cuts…this Saturday, it was Tink to the vet…next Saturday will be Belle’s turn to get her bloodwork rechecked. The following week, I get to spend a long weekend chilling out with the monks at Mepkin Abbey…I can’t wait…
P.S. Last Sunday was Tinker’s birthday…eleven years old.
Taxes are done…Yay! It’s amazing that the time we spend procrastinating and fretting over things that must be done is usually much longer than the actual time it takes to do whatever needs to be done. Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “Do the thing…and you will have the power.” I think he was right.
Yesterday morning, I took Belle in to the vet to get her shots in order for this year. I’m heading out to California next week, so the girls have to be up-to-date on their vaccinations to be in good standing at the kennel where I board them while I’m out of town. An unexpected surprise was that, during a consult with the doctor about some patches of rough skin on her back, the Doc recommended a geriatric panel of blood work be done, since (like TInker), she has the symptoms of hypothyroidism, which is somewhat common in Pomeranians. If that’s the case, it can be controlled with the same medication that Tinker is on now. I guess the three of us are destined to grow old together (the girls are both eleven). Although, I think that in the last year, I’ve spent more on veterinarian bills than on healthcare for myself. The vet bill from yesterday alone was three hundred dollars. I think we should lobby that pet care should be included in our health insurance programs. Later in the day, when I finally got around to sitting down and doing my taxes (it actually took less than an hour), I was seriously considering whether I should claim Belle and Tinker as dependents. On reconsideration, the IRS would probably end up flagging that for an audit.
So…having done the thing yesterday…today I have the power. I used it to sit out on the porch, feeling guilt-free, reading, and generally just enjoying the beauty of a cool, sunny day…the cerulean sky, only slightly smudged with some blurry cirrus clouds very high above the peaceful earth…the dogs at my feet. A Phoebe paid a visit to a bare branch of the fig tree next to the house…and serenaded me before winging off into the woods. At times, up in the sky, I spotted comets, with long wispy tails trailing behind (or, witches on broomsticks?)…and flying monkeys soaring in lazy circles…riding the thermals. For a while…it felt like I was in Oz. In reality, they may have only been airplanes, high in the stratosphere…and black vultures on patrol…but even that is enough magic for me. Today…I have the power.
…flow through our lives. The people we meet through casual encounters…or what we think are casual encounters. Who are we really…where have we been…where are we going. This entwinement has always been on my mind…that we’re part of a fabric that is being woven…a tapestry of sorts…for what purpose…and with what end in mind? And the strangest part of it is…that the grand view…what the beholder of this immense tapestry perceives…is, for the most part, unbeknownst to us…a mystery. We think we have a good idea of our past history…and where we’re going…but do we really?
I watched an interesting film this weekend called Anonymous. An imaginative revision of history…basically dealing with who William Shakespeare really was…or who he wasn’t. But the intricate web that it wove of English royalty, and the effect that mere words might have on the outcome of a civilization was thought-provoking…to say the least. It was a very beautiful film…evocative of the age…and I had to watch it several times before the story line became clear. The undercurrents of what was…and what might have been…sets the mind reeling about our own personal lives. How much of our understanding of our lives…and the people we’ve lived with, and interacted with on a daily basis…has any solid basis in reality? How much of it is mere playacting? And…do we really have a grasp on the plot?
Even something mundane, such as looking down at my two Pomeranians…sleeping at my feet…takes on new meaning. Do I even have a glimmer of the forces of history that have enabled them to grace my life in such a simple manner? They probably have more royalty in their blood lines than I could ever hope for… being descended from working sled dogs of the Arctic regions, and being bred for royalty in Poland, Germany, and later in England.
How much more so…the people that come into our lives…however briefly. There’s a depth of being here that’s difficult to comprehend. But it needs to be taken seriously…lest we miss something…or someone…that might change our lives forever.