September 27, 2006
My neighbors lost their puppy this weekend—he swallowed something that lodged itself firmly in his intestines and a trip to the vet for emergency surgery was unsuccessful in saving him. That afternoon the 2 girls—3 and 7—had come to the market with me while Six [named for the six-shaped spot around his eye] was at the vet. Two events in particular made me realize how much they were grieving. First, a visit to the balloon man led to a prompt request for a puppy from the 7-year-old. When he asked what color she wanted, the myriad of choices displayed were not even glanced at; she knew it had to be white. And of course, white was the color of the puppy. Shortly thereafter, the younger of the two had abandoned her one-eyed frog [he did begin his life with 2 eyes but had sadly already popped one of them]. She then had persistently pleaded until sister agreed to loan out the puppy. She promptly resumed the same game that had led to the casualty of froggy’s eye—tossing the balloon into the air and letting it fall onto the concrete floor. Predictably, the balloon lost its life soon thereafter. What surprised me at this point was that, rather than an angry reaction from big sister, there was first a violent bursting-into-tears by the younger. I cannot help but assume that somewhere in her 3-year-old heart, a sensitivity to the whole family’s concern over their puppy caused her to react as if that popping of the puppy balloon was a bit too close to possible reality at the time.
And then, unfortunately, that “possible” became reality . . .
This evening I got a phone call from their mother thanking me for the card I had made for the girls. She said I should go into the Pet-Sympathies card business, as the poem I wrote about Six made the older of the 2 girls cry. Not sure if I should take this as a compliment or not, she then assured me that they were good tears, and that she had loved the poem. I can’t remember exactly what it was that I wrote now, but I am glad it was appreciated, as I did actually agonize over it a fair bit, in an effort to speak on an understandable level for the girls without talking down at all, or making the grieving process worse. It is a greater honor to speak to the heart of this little one than it would have been to move a room-full of grown-ups to tears . . .
September 23, 2006
To those of you DBCS Cross-Country Fan Club members . . . if you will permit me a few moments of bragging, I must say that this was a huge victory for us, especially for the women’s team. This time all my girls finished the race. Which may not seem like such a huge deal but for us, it was. You see, my asthma-plagued runner has not yet completed a course–she has difficulty running on her own and so, once her asthma gets to her, she gives up if I am not there to coax her along. So before this race I gave pep talks over and over . . . and over again, that they all could finish–they just had to remind themselves that they could. If they had to take walking breaks, so be it–but just keep going again. Walk, then run again. Just don’t give up altogether–keep trying!
Well by God’s mercy, they did . . .at the very end the other coaches were beginning to take down the finish line and gather the time sheets when I ran to stop them: “Wait! I still have a runner out there!” Then I turned back around towards the course and threw my arms up at the sight of my beautiful runner, solitary but steady, persistently nearing the finish . . . “KAT!!!” I beamed at her and shouted a few hoarse cheers as she finished. As she finished. Yes, it was a victorious evening, and the ride back that night was a happy one–a tired, sweaty, somewhat smelly, and contented homecoming :-)
September 17, 2006
I saw them with my own two 20/10-vision eyes today . . . I saw the goats. A patch of black amidst the green caught my eye as I passed and, looking twice, I laughed heartily at my own luck. There they were, those famed goats, contentedly munching away and surrounded by tellingly sparse patches on the kudzu-covered ridge. One black, one white, several multi-colored . . . sure enough, the slow goats were indeed at work.
September 12, 2006
It seems one of my runners has a propensity for sports bra stories . . . Updating me on her weekend run today, she told me her discovery. It was actually a timely revelation, as our conversation was centering at the time around the, um, convenience [?] of the bra as an in-a-pinch sort of impromptu storage facility. At any rate, she was on her run in the ritzy “Legends” neighborhood when she spied a shiny coin on the road. When she saw that it was a quarter, she was so excited that she exclaimed something to the effect of, “Oh wow—it’s a Legends quarter!!” And she just had to have that “Legends quarter” . . . So she quickly snatched it up and popped it, without a second thought, into her sports bra—as we all know, bras being the perfect makeshift pocket. She promptly gasped and stifled a cry upon the rudely shocking discovery that this lovely little legends token was also quite sun-soaked and, consequently, painfully hot to the touch. And now we know: what glitters may be gold but its acquisition may not always be pleasant–or painless :-)
September 6, 2006
My morning run the other day brought me to an unfamiliar sight on a familiar road. Newly adorning the neighborhood street were 2 large back to back signs declaring SLOW GOATS WORKING. What kind of a joke is that? I wondered, laughing as I passed. And how did someone ever come up with such an idea—and get away with it??
By the end of the day, however, I had forgotten all about it . . . until yesterday.
After school yesterday, we caravanned both the women’s and men’s teams to my neighborhood. Our plan was to hold practice there, for a change of scenery [running routes around the school leave much to be desired]. It was also a practicality, as after practice we had a beginning of the season ice cream party with the parents, there at my house.
The girls are understandably self-conscious about running near the guys, so I took them in a markedly different direction. Returning, in the loudly sweaty fashion high school runners are inclined towards, the guys were talking about “the goats.”
“Goats?,” I asked—“you mean the signs?”
“No—the real ones. And the news cameras filming them. Up there,” he said, gesturing up the hill.
Turns out there really are goats “at work” in my neighborhood.
Today’s paper included an article about the pioneer project beginning this year—starting this year and continuing for 2 more, goats have been commissioned to tackle the kudzu overgrowth. A local goat farmer’s team of 30 goats are now employees of the city, eating away the kudzu. Theoretically, after 3 years of clear-cutting-by-goat, the kudzu will be permanently damaged and unable to grow back the next year.
Who would have thought? . . never underestimate the power of a goat and its appetite!