We are getting the beginnings of 60 mph winds this morning so I have decided to walk early before it gets worse. A crust of ice covers the snow, making walking treacherous. I take Oliver north on our trail, cross the bridge to my sister’s house and then head back along the county road. As Oliver trots down the road he spies a rabbit and gives chase, flying along the fence row and plunging into the undergrowth by the creek. He is in and out searching for the lost rabbit. With a lot of encouragement, I am able to get him to come to me and finish our walk. As he approaches I realize that he is covered with blood on his face, neck, chest and leg. I am surprised as I didn’t think he caught the rabbit and usually rabbits don’t bleed that profusely.
As we near home I see that he has ripped a strip of ear loose and that it is his own blood that is spraying him as he shakes his head. I take him into the house to clean him up and patch his ear with a bandage. This is futile as, although he can’t lick his ear, he can catch the bandage with his large paws. As I work to clean him up, I notice a few drops of blood on the floor, then more as the ear bleeds profusely. Soon there are splashes of blood all over, dog foot prints in the blood and then the cat spreading the blood with his tail. Once I have the dog somewhat bandaged I start cleaning the floor only to discover that blood is sprayed across the washer and dryer and walls in the bathroom and entry, on the white carpet and over the lid of the cat litter box.
Oliver is locked in the bathroom as I write this – hoping that the cut will clot up and that I can let him out. He is not happy locked in the bathroom and the cat has been kicked out.
This is my idyllic life in beautiful nature – it involves blood and messiness.
I have a perfect life for an artist, living in seclusion in an isolated rural acreage, the closest village with less than 300 people. Our 60 acres of wild land includes pasture, rows of cottonwoods planted in the 1950’s, a great variety of shrubs, grasses and wildflowers and through it all the crown jewel – Blue Creek – winding its way out of the Ogallala Aquifer springs to the sandhills to the North Platte River on the south. Our yard abuts the creek, blue grass lawn mowed to the edge. Birds feed at our window, a blue heron fishes along the bank, Sandhill cranes fly over during migration seasons. We have seen deer, skunk, raccoon fox, coyote, mink, otter, beaver, porcupine and small rodents.
This is also a perfect life for a dog. Oliver is our Weimaraner rescue dog, that is, I rescued my daughter from his craziness. Oliver is best described as an ADHD Olympic athlete, muscles rippling as he runs across the prairie. He has boundless energy, an explorer of every smell and animal track. He often corners a rabbit or small animal in a hollow log or irrigation pipe, working for hours to extract his prey.
In case you are imagining this perfect artist life as one of beautiful sunsets, winding trails and glowing grasses, you are correct. There is another side to nature however, a side that reflects the shadow and darker side of existence and here Oliver is also a reminder of the fullness of life.