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Grief and Gratitude

This has been a month of intense ups and downs for the Nutshell. The Baked Chef has left us after more than three years sharing our home, sneaking out in the middle of the night. We don't know exactly why he kept it a secret that he was going and disappeared without saying goodbye, but to be fair, it is exactly his style. The loss we feel is tinged with the shame of someone who has kept a wild animal for a pet, out of irrational love, and didn't fully prepare for the inevitable day when it would take off. But the Baked Chef is not a coyote or a boa constrictor; he is a complicated person. At least our worry has been relieved by a recent sighting of him in the sunny Southwest, buying a girl drinks in a bar. Cheers!


We have to admit that the timing, if not the manner, of this leavetaking is good. Nux Gallica is growing into a talking, almost-walking, curious, monkey-mimicking, bright and active child. It would have been difficult keeping half of the house and the backyard as an off-limits bachelor pad--or kicking our friend to the curb. So in a way, we are grateful for our loss. And we are grateful for all the good times we had together, and we are immensely grateful for our beautiful, healthy, brilliantly happy daughter.


A couple weeks ago, we had a Child Dedication for Nux Gallica at our church, and during the service a member read this beautiful poem written by her late mother-in-law, Anne Porter.

LEAVETAKING

Nearing the start of that mysterious last season
Which brings us to the close of the other four,
I’m somewhat afraid and don’t know how to prepare
So I will praise you.

I will praise you for the glaze on buttercups
And for the pearly scent of wild fresh water
And the great crossbow shapes of swans flying over
With that strong silken threshing sound of wings
Which you gave them when you made them without voices.

And I will praise you for crickets.
On starry autumn nights
When the earth is cooling,
Their rusty diminutive music
Repeated over and over
Is the very marrow of peace.

And I praise you for crows calling from treetops
The speech of my first village,
And for the sparrow’s flash of song
Flinging me in an instant
The joy of a child who woke
Each morning to the freedom
Of her mother’s unclouded love
And lived in it like a country.

And I praise you that from vacant lots
From only broken glass and candy wrappers
You raise up the blue chicory flowers.

I thank you for that secret praise
Which burns in every creature,
And I ask you to bring us to life
Out of every sort of death

And teach us mercy.

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