When I let out Wyntre Cat this morning I walked to the breakfast room window to see where he headed off to in the wind whipped garden. What I saw was that he stopped and sniffed a body.
Still in my jammies, I rushed out the door to find that one of the young squirrels who frequent our garden was dead. The little body was sodden, stiff and curled in s semicircle with the tail underneath. I went inside to get a paper towel to lift it off the wood chips under the yew tree where it lay. From what I could see there were no obvious wound marks, but its jaw was a bit off alignment. I placed it somewhere for safe keeping until I can bury it once the rain stops. I wondered if it had not fallen from the tree or off/against the wall in a gust of wind yesterday, because it was quite windy.
I felt sad. As I was making my breakfast I began to cry. I was grieving one of the characters in our garden community who would not be playing there any longer. Who would not scurry away when we came out of the door. Who would no longer be heard churring and chittering when unhappy from a neighouring garden’s tree.
More than that it reminded me of another loss, another death. This time of a magnificent pine tree. Her name was F’Bellasina. She stood in the garden of a parsonage where I lived in a small town in Massachusetts. She was cut down on 7th July 1995, if memory serves for the year. On 4th April that year there was a late blizzard that caused quite a bit of damage. My then husband, who was the pastor related to said parsonage, cut down a lovely maple he deemed a danger, to no one really. I have a branch of Wellthuga as one of my walking sticks.
F’Bellasina had assured me she was healthy and had no intention of falling down on the parsonage or the house next door. She was a very tall tree, well above the high roof of the second floor of the parsonage. The morning the assassins were due to arrive I went out to be with her. At one point her energy cross the barrier of consciousness and species and poured into me. I ran shrieking up to my study. I was inconsolable, screaming not my fear but F’Bellasina’s. She was not ready and did not want to die that day.
I felt her memories and sensations of wind blowing through her needled. I felt her delight as the local squirrels ran circles around her trunk. All of her tree memories surged though me in quick succession. I felt her confusion and despair. All I could do was slowly extract myself from her intense sensations and let her spirit go before the chainsaws got to work.
I went off for the day and ended up way outside of Boston at a friend’s house. When the friend saw me she noted my aura was ashen. She plied me with tea and cuddles and eventually took me back home. The tree murderers had left the stump well over two feet off the ground. The sap ran blood red over the top of it. I wept again and could not engage with my husband that night who had initiated that act of desecration.
Even as I type these words hot tears stream down my face. Salty still.
The loss of the little squirrel brought back the memory of F’Bellasina in sharp relief. I cannot and would not want to barrier these feelings, past or present. This loss is personal to me. That little creature was part of the fabric of the life of our garden. There will now be an empty space. I hope the other one returns in due course. I does not help reading earlier of two retired circus lions were killed and mutilated in a supposed sanctuary, beheaded and skinned.
I admit that I do not shed tears for those humans lost in mass attacks at the hands of other humans, although I do offer prayers for the peace of their souls at such an abrupt crossing of the threshold. I am more connected and always have been to the wider natural world of plants and animals. I get my energy there, not from people.
Of course, I grieve and feel for those humans closest to me, family and friends who make up my tribe. But it is of a different quality. Feeling deeply about the natural world around me, and sensing its inhabitants and denizens is the way I am. I make no apology for this, will make no excuses. It is with the wider natural world around me that I connect. It is there where my heart hurts most deeply and finds its most profound delight.
Today is a day my heart hurts.