Recently, on a morning run, I used a stick to lift a dead kangaroo rat off the trail. The white belly fur was vivid in the dawn, long back legs outstretched, tail curled into a U, the body stiff and frozen.

Later, at home, I lay on my back stretching and saw a small dark moth on the ceiling. As I watched, it released its grip and fell to the floor, much faster than a creature with wings should fall. It was still alive, but barely. I threw it outside and it hit the deck, in the sun at least, as it faded away.

In her old age, Emma the dog has become obsessed with the rabbits that live under the deck. She scrunches down and pushes her way partly under the warping boards, even pulling out a medium-sized bunny that was crisp, furry, and mummified. I buried it, but she still looks for it most days.

My mother has been going through a crisis of panic and paranoia. It is challenging to navigate, but the heart wrenching part is watching a vital person’s world shrink to little beyond impossible stories and fears. We can speculate about triggers and causes, but ultimately she has always valued independence above all else and that is what she has lost and may never regain.

This morning the wind was howling. I stepped onto the deck in the dark and saw layers of inky clouds and knew that a run would be worth it. The clouds to the west were spitting rain, with tiny drops blowing onto my face and, as I ran, clouds to the east framed the brilliant pre-sun sky. House windows on the ridge reflected squares of fiery red. I exclaimed and stopped so many times to gawk at the changing colors, clouds, and sky that Mack became confused. Are we running or not running? It is hard to describe the privilege of being alive and a witness to such a morning.

Mack dragged a couple of antlers and part of a skull out of the bushes. Bits of fur and skin are still sticking to the bone, the antlers are not symmetrical. It lives in the barn until it is more like an artifact, less like a little deer who just fed the coyotes.

We all follow a path: rat, moth, rabbit, deer, dog, human. We make choices along the way to influence this and that, trying to make the best lives for ourselves, but ultimately we release, we fall, and we become something we never imagined.

Laurel Hunter

Laurel Hunter

Central Oregon, USA