Monday, October 08, 2007
Waiting for Strawberries to Grow, and Dogs to Die
With Katrina's book challenge about to be underway, I headed off to the library. I sometimes check out the New York Times bestseller list, fiction and non-fiction, for anything that looks interesting. I once read a book on a couple who died of Aids, feeling like God was leading me to understand it better. I've read some real doozeys now and then, just because the mood struck me or I thought God wanted me to.

As I skimmed the list, I saw two on the NF list - Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver and Merle's Door, by Ted Kerasote. Merle is a dog, and since we're in the middle of training a pup I thought I'd pick it up.

Barbara Kingsolver, known for The Bean Tree and The Poisonwood Bible, usually writes fiction. Not that I've read either of the previously mentioned. But I had heard of her. Animal, Vegetable, Miracle was available on audio, 12 CD's long, a memoir of the year her family spent vowing to only eat food that grew or was raised within 100 miles of their Appalachian home. Hours and hours I drove, listening to the author tell of how they grew asparagus, melons, tomatoes, ordered turkeys and hens in the fluffy yellow stage, to provide eggs and meat. Sometimes when the chapters were boring I wondered what on earth possessed me to listen for a half hour on the virtues of growing zucchini. Right when I'd be tempted to give up, she'd stretch me - sharing of her struggle to decide where she stood on tobacco farming as a way of life, in spite of the ill it causes. Or she'd tell of her six year old daughter raising those hens to lay eggs, and pay for the horse she so dearly wanted. Any of the chickens who turned out to be male, after the obligatory one, would be sold to the highest bidder, so no names were given.

I listened as Barbara, her daughter Camille, and husband Steven Hopp talked of the Farm Bill, supporting local growers, whether ethics are involved in buying strawberries in January when you consider the fuel that was used to transport them. Do we Americans have to have everything we want, all the time, no matter the cost? This author stretched me - I imagine there is much in the political arena we disagree on, but I admire her living out her convictions one day at a time, something I as a Christian aspire to do, and often fail at. When the last chapter ended with her gently placing her hands under the mother turkey, checking for chicks and holding an egg in her hand, feeling the shell crack as she held it, feeling life at it's very newest moment, I was moved to think of myself as only one, but one who can make a difference in my world, even in little ways. I can more deeply appreciate this world God created, show it more respect, recognize those who vote differently from me may bless me if I'll listen to them for a bit, and I can maybe even wait til summer for strawberries. Pretty great non-fiction I think. I never cried listening to this book, but I did blow out the dustbunnies between my ears, and smiled a lot as I drove.

At night I've been reading Merle's Door - the cover is graced with a photo of a lab/bloodhound/heinz 57 dog sitting on a big rock, overlooking some gorgeous outdoor scene. Ted, a proverbial bachelor, finds Merle and brings him home, It immediately and completely grabbed my heart. Ted and I likely share little doctrine, maybe not even the same basic beliefs, but we do share a love of animals. As I read, I realized this man was the best dog owner I've ever heard of, if daily massages of an old arthritic dog count. When Ted built his cabin in Jackson Hole, Wyoming he realized Merle was hemmed in by his schedule, the dog's coming and going about the villages and fields and ski runs was restricted by Ted. So he cut another door in the front of his house, just for Merle. Merle who came and went as he pleased, brought his dog buddies home just as a teenager would bring home friends for a movie and pizza. To read through the eyes of this man, as he wrote of the countryside he so loves, of hunting bull moose or elk to eat, how he shared his life with a creature made by God, to see his respect for this animal, that overflows into his entire life, the people he loves, the work he does, this was a really good man. A man I would respect in spite of some of our differences.

Unlike a movie, one thing about a book, you can tell when it's going to end. You begin to run out of pages. It was a book about a dog, and as the chapters moved along, Merle began to get old and sick, so I knew. Merle was going to die. Only a true reader understands that you have to save the ending for just the right moment, no interruptions, no background noise, it has to be savored. So last night, as I could see that there was one more sitting left in the book, I did what any seasoned reader would do. I took a shower, put the dogs to bed, set the coffee for morning, got out a big bowl of rocky road ice cream, grabbed the kleenex and climbed into bed. I sat there blubbering, tears literally rolling into my ice cream dish, as this man shared from his gut telling his dog of 14 years goodbye. We've had to put a dog or two to sleep, with the entire family sobbing their goobyes, but I'm not sure anyone has ever loved a dog at this depth, nor shared the story so well. A story of love, of respect for sharing your life with another, and the sadness of saying goodbye. Setting aside the ice cream dish, throwing the soggy tissues into the trash, I put the book on the dresser to return to the library tomorrow, and fell asleep feeling completely blessed by reading one man's non-fiction story of the dog he loved. Reading a story of love that runs deep is a blessing, it matters little the object of his love wasn't a woman.

Great reads - they don't have to be fiction. Learning from others' lives that don't completely match ours, what a concept! We just have to listen with our hearts sometimes. Even if that someone speaking might cancel our vote in the upcoming election.


  posted at 7:31 PM

Subscribe in a reader
Past Chats
  • April 2006
  • May 2006
  • June 2006
  • July 2006
  • August 2006
  • September 2006
  • October 2006
  • November 2006
  • December 2006
  • January 2007
  • February 2007
  • March 2007
  • April 2007
  • May 2007
  • June 2007
  • July 2007
  • August 2007
  • September 2007
  • October 2007
  • November 2007
  • December 2007
  • January 2008
  • February 2008
  • March 2008
  • April 2008
  • May 2008
  • June 2008
  • July 2008
  • August 2008
  • September 2008
  • October 2008

  • Filed Away Neatly
    Busy Buzz
    Creative License
    Dusty Stuff
    Family Affair
    Girl Talk
    Glimpse of the Heart
    Photo Album
    Slavin' Over the Stove
    The Price is Right

    Search This Blog


    Creative Commons License
    This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

    Page copy protected against web site content infringement by Copyscape

    About Me

    Girl Raised in the South

    I have a deep, abiding love for full octane coffee, sewing, knitting, quilting, reading, cooking, gardening, God and my family - not in that order.

    My Complete Profile

    Family is Everything
  • A Chelsea Morning - Barb
  • And Baby Makes Three - Leslie
  • Creative Worship - Chris
  • Flight Song - Mom
  • In The Midst of It - Sarah
  • At A glance - Krissy
  • In A Moment - Mandy

  • Recent Comments

    Fruit of the Spirit

    Family Friendly

    Family Friendly Blogroll []

    Family Friendly Blogroll [-]

    Blog Design by:

    Powered by:
    Powered By Blogger

    Meter by: