Tuesday, August 18, 2020

The Dog Days of Summer

Is it a coincidence that I chose this print for mending Alex's pants? Perhaps not. The pants were purple, and have faded, and frayed, and Alex likes purple. And I can't stop skywatching, for planets, constellations, the moon, the meteors, and satellites. Besides, "coincidences" are not as fun as signs, serendipity, destiny, magic, flights of fancy. This is Sirius, the Dog Star, the brightest star, the one that follows Orion into the sky, giving way to the dawn.

I don't wonder that people have told stories, sought answers to the inexplicable, followed stars, created their creators, put purpose into events, then elaborated, entwined, divined. Meaning is such a comfort. If we can't make sense of something, then at least we want to believe in a design, in reason. We take the vastness of time and space, label it, chart it, define it. With celebration, traditions, ceremony, with candles and song, gathering, we light the dark of winter. The impulses are beautiful, natural, and dangerous. If I want to make-believe that fairies bring frost to the fields, or write stories about a bird and rat that make a home in an oak tree and send letters in the post, that's fine for play, for amusement. But I am wary of the stories that connect suspicion, ignorance, malice, and apply those to an agenda that serves manipulation, greed, untempered power. I am circumspect of false narratives strung together, for the purpose of inspiring fear, to conspire against reason, against truth. I believe we are good, that most of us want to be kind, to help, to relieve suffering, to connect. Acts of intervention, patience, guidance, rehabilitation, empathy, justice, are the notions I celebrate, and want to practice, elaborate. I believe in hope, in kindness, in love, in compassion, in sharing. I believe in the stories that shine light, and seek reason.

August 4

Progress. Slow, and steady roof progress.

August 6

This pandemic, and 45 government, the madness of 2020, is so far out of hand, and destructive. I can muster courage, resolve, and I can count my blessings, share my apples, and recipes, and I will vote, and be mindful, and listen... but I cannot say this hasn't been hard, that I haven't lost confidence, been scared, sad, weary, confused, appalled, all in the span of any given five minutes. I could scream. I could dive deep into some rage, and fall apart. Sometimes I want to believe that being a good example to my children means always being strong, always staying composed, having mindful, level responses. Then again, my children are not toddlers, not unaware of news, and events, and hiding how I feel, suppressing my struggles is dishonest. We are all doing our best to stay well, in mind and body, and we are all facing unique challenges, and obstacles, as well as shared difficulties, the universal upsets, and I think it's best to hold space for honesty, for raspberries, and bemoaning the struggles. Honest expression is not melodramatic, nor wallowing. Pain and fear actually seem to dissolve and dissipate more readily with openness, when we speak our truth, describe feelings, share thoughts... when we are heard, respected. So, what I want to practice is showing that being strong comes from asking for help, knowing my limits, balancing, and resting. Coming to mindful responses, can be a process, when it helps to say what I feel, speak up, speak out, express, and not feel shut down, shamed into silence. Tasha knows. Some moments are not great, and when I can admit that, it's easier to move forward, and hopefully it helps someone else feel safe to open up, too.

Emma Thompson, Cuckoo Maran... hatched July, 2013

August 8
Liberty, Cuckoo Maran... hatched July, 2013

Speaking of honest expression, I have something to say about chickens. They have, in all honesty, been making me crazy with how mean they are. And daft. Chickens are so mean, so daft! Pretty sure I've written about this before, but trust me, it bears repeating. Well, lately I have been dismayed and fed up with the henpecking and pettiness. Like, when there is plenty of food, but Pippi and Pepper rove around pecking the Chiclets on the head, chasing them off. Whichever hen is top of the order, she tends to terrorize and torment everyone else. I can never get passed this. I always envision a harmonious, pastoral, romantic farm life, where the hens cluck contentedly, merry hens in camaraderie. In fact I did have this experience, with my first flock. The three Chicas, Grace, Luna, and Rosie were ideal, truly. They were never cross, they always did everything together, and were even engaging and fun with us. So, it can be lovely with hens, but it doesn't seem to be the default experience. Some hens are naturally sweet, mild, funny. Some hens are cranky, indifferent, bossy, awful, or
churlish. I've kept them long enough to know all this, but I still always hold out for the sweet ones, for some common sense and peace.

William is industriously using this time to transform his room with paint, molding, new hardware. He's inspiring all of us, too. I am thinking of painting the kitchen. And Maria's room. And my room. I am thinking of all sorts of things.

The MVPs, our Black Australorps: Maya, Ventura, and Puanani... hatched March, 2020

Dear Chiclets, I'm sorry you are henpecked, and tormented. I am sorry you cannot always walk freely around the yard without fear of being pecked, kicked, bossed around, maltreated. You deserve better. I will always feed you something extra, away from the Old Ladies. I will always find time to let you walk around without the company of mean hens. I hope you will grow up to be sweet, mild, funny hens.

The dog days of summer... "The phrase is actually a reference to the fact that, during this time, the Sun occupies the same region of the sky as Sirius, the brightest star visible from any part of Earth and part of the constellation Canis Major, the Greater Dog." This year those days are from July 3, and ending August 11, when the Dog Star, Sirius, appears at sunrise.

Chica, Bambi, and Pippi

Bambi's dogs are sweet. We all enjoy their visits, even the cats. Sort of. Cairo takes the entire span of the dog visit slowly, crouching and wary, coming closer and closer, but always cautiously. He starts upstairs, from my bedroom window. Feynman checks them out, peering from the screened porch, and then he goes on about his business. But, Sakamoto! Sakamoto wants to be friends. Up close, outside friends, and he stays on the porch watching all of the activity, sometimes meowing to join the fun. Chica stands beneath Sakamoto's window, and they almost touch noses throughout the screen.

Bambi gives them the full treatment... baths and towel drying, then nails clipped.

August 9

I was so excited that this would be the Year of the Rat.


August 10

Cat Days... any season, any day, is for cats.


gretchenjoanna said...

Black Australorps are my favorite. I once had two. <3

gretchenjoanna said...

Oh, and I meant to say, Just this week I was wondering about the origin of "Dog Days." I'm a little late for this year, but next summer I'll be in the know!

Natalie, the Chickenblogger said...

I am loving the Australorps more and more, with each passing day. And one of them laid her first egg. It's barely brown, and about as tiny as can be!
I never knew, and the expression just popped into my head because of our visitors, but then it fit perfectly. So funny! I always thought it just meant the weeks in summer when it's so hot, dogs don't move... lol. That's kind of specific, yet vague, compared with the real meaning. I'm glad I looked it up. The world is so interesting, considering all we chart, and ascribe, and follow, and then some things we only half understand!