Sunday, March 12, 2017

Beaver Becomes A Warrior

When Grammy and Grampy found Beaver, he was just a one pound puppy being swallowed up in a ditch by a six lane highway. Grammy grabbed the tiny bit of white fur and puppy dog eyes and held him carefully while Grampy drove to their vet. Beaver almost died that day but Doc pulled him through and proudly presented the puppy to Grammy and Grampy.

"We can't take him in," Grammy said.

"We have five cats," Grampy said.

"We don't know how to take care of a dog," Grammy said.

"You'll do just fine," Doc said. Just be as good to Beaver as you are to your cats."

Grammy and Grampy brought Beaver home and read a book "THE COMPLETE IDIOT'S GUIDE TO RAISING DOGS".

"We have to put Beaver in a crate," Grammy said.

"No way!" Grampy said. "That will traumatize him."

Grammy and Grampy went to the baby section at Wal-Mart and bought a playpen and a fuzzy whale bed for Beaver.

"Now you be a good puppy," Grammy told Beaver, "and play with your new brothers and sister." And Grammy set Beaver on the floor where he was surrounded by five fifteen pound cats expressing their negative opinions of Beaver.

Beaver was scared and let out one long high pitched wail of agony that sent the cats under the couch. After five minutes, Yolkie, the yellow tabby cat, crawled out from under the couch and climbed over the play pen slats to hop into the play pen. He went to Beaver and kicked him. Beaver stopped crying and laid down with Yolkie in his fuzzy whale bed.

From then on, the cats taught Beaver how to be a mighty warrior Gray fur Donny and his little sister Little Bit bathed him every day with their little rough tongues and made sure his ears were clean. Black fur Scooter kept him up every night so he could help them hunt rodents, When Grampy fed the cats their kitty food, Beaver happily ate all of it.

Then Winston taught Beaver how to growl. Winston crunched up his face and howled, "EEEEEEEEEEEPPPPPPPPPPPPP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!." Beaver crunched up his face and growled, "yip yip yip yipee!"

Neighbor boys, seeing Beaver's efforts, laughed and pointed at him. Poor Beaver was humiliated.

The boys shouted, "Get the kitties," and ran into the yard and Winston shouted, "MEEEEEEEPPPP" which in human speak is "Every cat for himself. Run! Hide!"

The cats ran up trees. Beaver ran under some bushes.

Grampy came to the yard and yelled at the boys. "Better be careful," he told them. "That dog's gonna eat you up one of these days."

The boys laughed.

Beaver was not happy after that. Even when the cats shared their catnip with him, he just lay still and pouted. The cats helped him exercise and jog around the house. Grampy sneaked him pieces of steak and meat loaf and he felt himself start to grow.

Then one day the magic happened. Beaver's voice changed. No more "yip yip yipee." Beaver made this discovery just as the neighbor boys came to his yard and he ran to them and they laughed and Beaver stood tall with shoulders back, head up, teeth bared, fur trembling, and legs quivering. Then the Mighty Beaver ran toward the boys and he growled and roared and sang out in the joy of battle that said, "Stand back for Beaver is coming through!"

For the next twelve years, Beaver stood guard over his cat community, keeping all naughty boys from teasing the kitties and letting the world know, "Here I stand with my friends. Enter our yard if you must but just be polite."

Posted by Diana for Margaret

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Life, Death, and Life Again

One thing that some people don't like about gardens is that, sooner or later, they must deal with death. Often this is a shock to them because they think of gardens only as sources of life.

Of course there is death in a garden. New flowers will not grow until the old ones die and spill their seeds on fertile soil. Food plants grow from the seeds of old food. Even seeds from kitchen scraps tossed onto a compost pile can produce new plants. Death in a garden is the same as in the world; it is a part of life.

Giving up life is never easy. A tree, when cut by the woodsman, remains standing for several seconds before falling to the ground. A bird or an animal facing death, makes a final cry before submitting to the last moment of life. Insects and worms fight to cling to their fragile and short lives, preferring to live in the dust of the earth rather than become part of it. Leaves on branches amputated from trees or bushes continue to stay green for days, even weeks, in denial that their life source is gone. Flowers plucked from their beds retain their form and color long after they've been tossed onto a heap in a neglected corner of the garden.

Sometimes there is a perfume from an undefined source that accompanies death. Some people say it is the sickening sweet scent of decay. People of faith say it is the perfume of Heaven. Whatever the source, it is often accompanied by a one note song, turning the last moment of life into a time of beauty and inspiration.

One spring day, I discovered a badly injured sparrow fledgling lying under some bushes. I picked up the tiny bird and held him in my hand. Unable to do anything to prevent his death, I spoke in soothing words to him while his little chest struggled vainly to continue breathing.

With his last gasp of life, this sparrow sang one long melodious note more beautiful than any song created by humans. In the silence of his death, I cried. His short song of good-bye remains entrenched in my memory to  return in joyful celebration whenever my soul is burdened with sorrow. Several other times I have heard other creatures sing this song at the moment of their deaths.


I bury all the dead creatures that I find in Timothy's garden. There is a large grave where an old opossum rests in peace and six graves for cats and dogs who found death on nearby roads. There are even graves for birds, rats, squirrels, and mice. One grave for a black snake is six feet long and three inches wide.


One thing I learned right away was to be sure that the creature I was preparing for burial was really dead. One day, I found a young opossum lying motionless and apparently not breathing in Timothy's garden. I went to the shed to get a shovel and returned in time to see the opossum scrambling over our fence and into our neighbor's yard.

Another time, I saw Stealth - one of our feral cats - lying in a twisted position, one eye shut, the other eye open and staring blankly at the sky. Grampy and I believed Stealth to have been an old cat since he looked so disheveled with injuries from so many fights. I sighed, and started to get the shovel when Grampy called to me that it was lunch time.

When I came back outside an hour later, Stealth sat up, yawned, stretched, and looked at me with his, "Well, where's my lunch?" expression on his face.

I am never in a hurry to bury lizards or frogs even when they look like nothing more than dried up leather. I place them into shallow pans of water and set the pan in a protected area. More times than not, these little creatures soak up the  water and scamper off.


Death can never be avoided but sometimes it can be delayed. When Winston was fifteen years old, he became very sick. My heart breaking, I sat by Winston lying on the little nest he'd made for his last moments and petted him and talked to him. 
He stared at me, each breath coming slower. He was too weak to meow even one little "Eep."

At last I told Winston, "It's okay. You can die now. We will miss you but we will always remember you."

Winston looked at me as if trying to comprehend what I had said. Then he moved his head to my hand and bit it! Then he jumped down from his nest, ran across the yard, attacked Little Bit, ate all the food in her dish, then sat at his usual spot on the picnic table to survey his kingdom.

That night, I woke up to a horrendous cat fight with Winston bellowing a loud and long EEEEEEEEEEEEEPPPPPPPP!!!!!!!! while chasing some poor terrified creature out of the yard.

Grampy teased me, saying that Winston had chased Death out of our yard. I never disagreed with him since Winston lived for another year and a half until he finally went to his glory.

Jesus prayed in a garden before meeting his death and the angels' words - "He is risen!" - were spoken to Peter and John in a garden's open grave. A garden is nature's gospel of Creation, Salvation, Resurrection, and Eternal Life born in springtime, nurtured through the summer, harvested in autumn, and laid to rest in winter to return again with new life in spring. Let us always rejoice in our gardens, God's special gift to us.

Posted by Diana for Margaret