I collected a still warm egg from the chicken coop after lugging a 50 pound bag of feed into their enclosure. I'm sure the eggs we get are the most expensive eggs ever but that's ok. Lucy and Fiona enjoy themselves well enough.
My father brought home all manner of animals for us, for me. We had a pigeon with a broken wing. She lived in the basement with a popsicle stick splint and when she was better we let her go. We fed her un-popped popcorn. He brought home a tiny snapping turtle I fed hamburger to. He brought home a baby field mouse I fed with a doll bottle. He rescued a young ground hog that sat in the lawn snapping her teeth at us. One morning he told us to look in the garage and there were two young raccoons in the rafters. We had a beautiful black snake that was about 6 feet long. We had bullfrogs. I hatched a monarch butterfly in a jar.
There were the dead too, the animals we ate. Deer, ducks, sunfish and bass. He hunted and fished and tied his own flies. Trout fishing was his favorite. My favorite photo is of him standing in a trout stream, rod in hand, ready to swing and arc the fly into the water.
From my dad I learned to love the creatures and the wilderness. He would have liked my vegetable garden and the chickens. He would have liked Felix even though he isn't a hunting dog like his were (hello Kim and Shiner and Gus in dog heaven). He loved his dogs, more than us.
Yes, he drank too much. He was a womanizer. He was a child who lost his father to suicide. Perfect he wasn't. And my siblings had a different father than I had. He was different with all of us, too hard on the boys. Geoffrey's suicide would have devastated him.
And when my mother threw me out of the house, he was in the background. I'll never know how he felt about that awful time. Were they in it together? Did he think disowning a child was appropriate and right?
So I have his gifts and the hard knot of his sadness. Today I remember him as I care for this scrap of the earth, the plants and animals. Healed and wounded, living and dying.