Saturday, September 09, 2006

A Lousy Week

I hate this time of year. I always hated Back To School time, because it meant that I'd squandered another summer that I'd intended to spend in productive pursuits or at least having fun. Since I've never actually lived someplace where the summer wasn't either deadly dull (that is, in Amarillo, Texas, my home town) or miserably hot (North Carolina, Austin, Texas) the odds were against me. Yet I still find myself spotting catalog copy for a cute sweater that mentions Cool Summer Evenings and going all wistful.

Back To School also sucks because I always found the first week of school unsettling and disappointing (again, with the unmet expectations), plus my birthday always fell on the first week of school so nobody had time to make any sort of a fuss--on my 13th birthday, my whole family forgot until about mid-afternoon after I brought it up.

Heat and crushed optimism--these are the things I associate with late summer.

This year was better in some ways: my birthday was fun, especially with a 2-year-old celebrating with me. She felt like it was her birthday, too, and enjoyed blowing out a candle on her cupcake several times. The heat broke, finally, and we had some coolish weather in time for Labor Day weekend, which also was fun (in places). We had a halfway-impromptu BBQ that was all about MEAT, including guinea hens (tastes sorta like chicken), two kinds of venison, and two kinds of sausage. Went to a fun pool party on Monday.

But then there's the bad part: three of our chickens were killed in three days, two by some kind of daylight attacker (feral cats, maybe, or some other varmit who was especially hungry thanks to the drought) and the third by our own dog. In front of me. With my daughter on my hip.

I keep seeing it, vividly, in my memory and in dreams every night: the dog with the chicken's neck in her jaws, the poor hen's legs flailing uselessly, blood on feathers, BabyGirl clinging to me, the dog lunging even as I grip her collar and drag her back, me shouting for help and getting no reply, the last few spasms of the dying bird, my husband's rage at the dog, on and on. The guilt and shame at not having taken care of our birds, who we raised from week-old chicks.

I have no idea who it's affected BabyGirl, except that she asked about the two black chickens (whose deaths she didn't witness) and we told her that there was an accident and they were gone. She hasn't asked about the brown chickens, though we told her that Dusty, the survivor, is at our friend Joanna's house and is being taken good care of. Either she didn't understand what was happening or (and this seems more likely) she understood that the chicken was dead but didn't put it all together--she's treating the dog exactly the same as before. I haven't decided to sit down (with a 2-year-old?) to discuss what happened because I've been to upset and would just ensure that she understood exactly how awful the whole thing was. So far (aside from reassuring her at the time that she and I were ok) I've just answered her questions honestly.

On top of all that, Hubby and I had the sort of ugly fight where I ended up wondering if he has any respect for me at all. I think we've worked it out, but I'm still feeling hurt and sad about the whole thing.

But there's hope: school's back in session, the weather is cooler, we've actually had some rain (not enough to break the drought but enough to help) and we're building a safer chicken coop.


Post a Comment

<< Home