Children constantly hear adults say “Wow. Time flies. Why just yesterday you were this big.” The adult leaning down to place their hand a foot above the ground, the child or teenager smiles politely but internally scoffs at the ridiculous repetitiveness of relatives they have see only rarely. It isn’t until that child or teenager gets older, not until they hit their twenties, that they begin to understand why adults say this over and over.
This growing sensation that you are getting older often comes in the form of large family gatherings that celebrate a right of passage. My cousin had his Bar Mitzvah in early June, and the coming together of family and acquaintances made me realize how shockingly old I am (in some respects). I do not see Sammy or his older brother Benny every time I journey to LA, but seeing them on this occasion I realized how old they have become in intervening years. Benny, who is 18, towers over me and I have a feeling that Sammy will soon reach him. When you see someone every day the gradual changes in height, appearance, and personality mean little. You are a witness, they become the norm, but when you haven’t seen someone in years it can be a shock. My surprise at the size and age of Benny and Sammy and some of my other cousins is nothing to Sammy’s grandmother seeing me for the first time since I was 2. Two years old to Twenty-Two, twenty years of space, it would be nearly impossible to recognize someone in that time. The feeling of watching kids grow from a distance is a strange one, made stranger in today’s world of connectivity.
My Facebook newsfeed is full of pictures of adorable infants, many of whom I have never met in person. These children are a visual reminder of the passage of time. I have not grown nor changed much externally in five years, and each year seems to go by faster and faster. These kids grow rapidly, changing every year, growing, walking, talking, transforming in front of my eyes. The point of all this: I now have a deep empathy for all the adults who awkwardly comment on how time has flown by, who mention that your presence makes them feel old. These comments that I once hated, that I once thought were silly and the useless sayings of morbid adults, I now understand. Maybe I will manage to refrain from saying them out loud to the derision of the children around me, maybe…just maybe.
For a little over 1 month, from June-July 2014, I traveled to the mountains in the west. I journeyed across the pond and returned to the Pacific Northwest for Independence Day. I saw good friends, made some new ones and explored areas I have never seen before. I was floored by natural beauty: mountains, rivers, rolling hills, and so much green. These posts are moments captured in time and musings on places, experiences, and friends.
Crater Lake. Perfectly blue, shifting from sky blue to the deepest navy, Crater Lake formed after the collapse of Mount Mazama. The top of this volcano gave way 7700 years ago creating a huge, 2148-foot, self-contained basin. Over the centuries this basin filled with snowmelt and rain creating Crater Lake. The lack of sediment and the purity of the water make Crater Lake so clear and so blue.
The road up to Crater Lake was lined on either side by sheer walls of snow, towering over our little car. It was early June; the full tourist season would not start for another month or so. Snow still blanketed the entire Eastern half of the Rim Road (the main road that surrounds Crater Lake) and it was closed. Although this limited our experience of the park, the snow added to the majesty of the lake.
When I first looked out over Crater Lake, I was struck by the silence. No wind broke the surface of the water; it was totally still. The lake perfectly reflected the snow-covered rim surrounding it. The color of the lake mirrored the sky above and for a moment the world seemed upside down. The sides of the basin were lined with ridges and smooth valleys like wagon ruts in a muddy road. These were the paths lava once traveled as it flowed to the surface of Mount Mazama. The ridges and contours of the rim, the still peacefulness of the lake itself, and the snowy white quiet of Crater Lake are nature’s answer to fire, lava and destruction.
Farm dogs are not pets. Law #1 of growing up on a farm: they have jobs to do. The guard dogs are here to protect not cuddle. Titan, Slick, Wart, Henry, and Rosie all guard dogs, all now lost. But your death feels different, Meg, you were not a guard dog; you were our Border Collie, our friend, our co-worker. You should have gone to retirement like Louise, our Great Pyrenees. You were both with us from the start, from the very beginning. You both lived with us. You were family.
The moment you first entered our home was the sign that mom really meant to go through with her maddening idea to start a sheep dairy. You taught mom and the whole farm how to herd. You were always patient as we all tried to learn in the slow repetitive way of humans. I cannot count the times you saved us from many hours of chasing after lost lambs. Ten solid years you devoted to us, Meg, and for that I thank you.
You could be a handful at times. You didn’t always get along with the other dogs with Kinda you wanted to battle to the death. You stopped listening many years ago, partly from selective hearing and partly from creeping deafness. You loved your work and you never wanted to leave it. You put up with numerous different crazy humans, none of whom knew what they were doing. And through it all you remained as solid as a rock, you loved us all despite our stupid human tendencies. You put up with the yelling and the swearing and you tried your best, for that we owe you more than you can imagine.
You did not deserve to die that way and for that I will apologize over and over. You deserved to die peacefully, on your own time and in your own way. I wish I could honor you in the way you earned. You were a partner, a friend, and the hardest worker on this farm. You deserved better. Since I cannot change what happened, the best I can do is to make a promise to myself that I will always remember you. You helped build this farm from the ground up and you will forever be a part of its foundation. Thank you, Meg, for all your years of service. RIP.