Saturday, September 18, 2010

A Garden Funeral

The gardens at 410 became the unexpected site of a funeral this morning, I the impromptu officiator of funeral rites.

I plunged into the outdoors very early in the morning to enjoy the silence and water, prune, and trim the now spent flowers stalks of the Sum and Substance hostas. Miss Gray Kitty, the abandoned cat I’ve been taking care of since last autumn, appeared for food and affection, and then walked off, sated with both.

I went to refill the watering can from the rain barrel, and saw Miss Gray Kitty in the alley. The sight of her was unexpected, stopped me in my tracks. I blinked and focused.

Miss Gray Kitty was not dead. No. She was playing! I watched with delight as she pawed what looked from the far end of the alley a clump of leaves, or a leaf. She propelled it into the air, under the hose storage box, out from under it, back into the air, against the side of the neighbor’s house. And then she saw me, walked toward me, then rapidly turned round and pounced on her leaf.

Except it wasn’t a leaf.

It was a Yellow Bellied Flycatcher.

Miss Gray Kitty murdered a beautiful little bird.

After she quickly tired of her morning plaything, she walked off and left me to clean up her dirty deed. In this case, the cover-up was not worse than the actual crime.

I picked two large Sum and Substance host leaves, dug a hole, placed the Yellow Bellied Flycatcher between the leaves, and carefully placed the bundle into the hole. Onto its grave I place a few coleus leaves, and a sprig of diminutive Liriope flowers.

Though the burial ceremony was brief, I replayed in my mind over and over that scene from The Hours in which Virginia Woolf, played by Nicole Kidman, performed a bird funeral with her niece, Angelica Bell. My experience felt just as moving. But I just couldn’t lie down next to the bird as Virginia (or Nicole) had done. Not because I lacked feeling, but because the back area of the garden emitted an atrocious odor, as Gramsci had used what he thinks to be his outdoor litter box (that is, my entire garden) just 30 minutes prior. All I could think of was accidentally putting my face into a pile of Gramsci poop.

So, goodbye little birdie. Forgive me for skimping on your funeral. And forgive Miss Gray Kitty for her feline antics. 


  1. Reading the title, I grew worried that the garden itself was being laid to rest, a casualty of our fickle weather.

    I also really like the redesign. I've mostly been reading via Google Reader, where you don't get the full aesthetic.

  2. Thanks, Bill! The fickle weather has fortunately aided (perhaps "confuse" would be a more appropriate term) many plants in the garden.