Ashes To Ashes (or A Treat For The Possums)

July 27, 2010

Yesterday, Tony called me outside to “deal with this.” “This” turned out to be a dead mourning dove, a plop of grey feathers right in the middle of the flagstone path. While Tony loves to sit outside and work the crossword puzzle to the backdrop of the garden and the spu-lunk of the pond and he’ll haul mulch, go to nurseries, dig holes and mow the lawn and he is always game to hike, walk or bike in the great outdoors, he has been known to destroy a pair of sunglasses because he thought it was a snake and dealing with dead things is completely out of his skill set.

So while Tony jumped inside and surfed the net to find out how to dispose of a dead bird, I eased the bird onto the shovel and gently placed him under the bell flower on the berm.

Although none of my skin came within 18″ of the bird, I came inside to wash my hands, much to Eliza’s pleasure (she was standing in the doorway throughout the procedure, parroting “now go wash your hands, wash your hands, you’ll need to wash your hands.” – like father, like daughter).

Tony then gave me full instructions on the disposal of a dead bird, which were rather like dealing with nuclear waste. Plastic gloves, plastic bags, more plastic bags, plastic garbage can.

I don’t think so.

We need to respect that circle of life, and as long as I can place this dead bird out of the way of my dogs and not worry about small children coming to touch it, I’m going to make sure he’s returned to the soil. I have no desire to have my remains sealed in plastic, then concrete and then buried to be preserved for decades and I don’t want that for this dove either.

Later in the evening, I was again surprised by his mate by the thistle seed feeder (say that 10 times quickly!). She took off into the air in that rush of whistling feathers, all alone and it seemed wrong. I hope she finds a new guy soon so she won’t be lonely.

The dead dove was gone by sunset. Not sure who sneaked in there and grabbed him, but isn’t it nice to know that his end was beneficial to someone?

Eliza says she wants her ashes spread in the gardens of the Art Institute of Chicago. I admire her creativity in this thinking, declared when she was about 6 years old.

Not-final-at-all resting place for the mourning dove

I really like the fact that someday, many many many decades from now, her great-great-grandchildren (She will live a very long, happy life, you see) will lay her to rest where she can do some good.


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