Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Special Needs Rabbit - Honeysuckle recovers

Honeysuckle's Headtilt
 A while back Anita found Honeysuckle huddled in a corner and for a day and a half she did not move. She didn’t eat, drink, chew or poop her little brown beads. Then she began to strangely lie on her side as if she couldn’t hold herself in an upright rabbitty position. She dirtied herself in a most sad, uncommon way. When we picked her up she rolled onto her back and couldn’t seem to right herself. When she fell down her ramp, we were alarmed and knew something was very wrong. The vet diagnosed her with Pasteurellamultocida , a bacterial infection that had settled in her inner ear and was giving her vertigo. By then she was so dizzy she couldn’t even sit up. Rabbits often die from such infections. The outcome was uncertain as she languished for about two weeks, getting antibiotics and being fed timothy hay puree and canned pumpkin from a big syringe because she couldn’t eat on her own.

It’s been two months now and she seems to have stabilized, but has neurological damage that gives her a permanent head-tilt. She has one good eye that is always pointing up as if she has a question to ask. The other one uselessly gazes at the floor. Her energy is back and she is almost normal except that she cannot sit up quite right and one ear is always flopped. When called for a treat – we call her “Honeysuckle! Sweetheart, come get your carrots.” (She loves grapes, too.) She hurtles toward us but usually overshoots the mark as if her brakes are also missing.

Strange isn’t it? How we have tender feelings toward God’s creatures? I know, especially the cuddly, cute ones. But we care for her more especially now – needing to clean her more frequently, be more careful with her diet. And in turn, she seems even more affectionate. Demanding to be petted and loved. She continues to have a good life on Toad Hall’s back porch.
Since many of you, in the past, have followed her little life. I thought you’d like to see our angora rabbit who now has “special needs.” Please excuse the blue-tint. We are amateurs.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

After that most things are a "come down"

Lately, I've been reading through C.S. Lewis' letters to his lifetime friend, Arthur Greeves.
In 1930 he confessed Christianity - obliquely at first, then gradually with more and more clarity and intensity.
I have enjoyed reading these letters and listening to his journey through life. His letters connect him to the ordinary things, like digging up the hens' run and walking the dog, these make him a whole person and more accessible to my heart and brain. At the same time, his brilliance and amazing ability to parse True Faith help keep me on my own modest path. If, or when, I have doubts about the Christian faith or God, I say to myself: Oh, that's right. There is C.S. Lewis.   

 Even though I grow a little bored of hearing quotes about Aslan, I can't help but share this quote about an altogether "other" legendary person.

"I read in two evenings a little book ... called 'The Practice of the Presence of God' which I picked up & put in the study because it seemed to me a promising title. It is by a Seventeenth century monk. It is full of truth but somehow I didn't like it: it seemed to me a little unctious. That sort of stuff, when it is not splendid beyond words, is terribly repulsive, or can be, can't it? No doubt it depends v. largely on ones mood. I had just finished the fourth Gospel in Greek ... and after that most other things are a come down."
                            -  June 1, 1930.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Time to change

It is snowing this morning. The first day of “Daylight Savings.” Daylight Time used to change when Spring was firmly established in flowers and light. Today, ironically, it is still winter. Snow falls straight down in heavy-cotton chunks. Theirs is a quiet, passing beauty. The kind of snow-fall that doesn’t last. Quickly it fades to small flakes and then disappears altogether.
I am thoughtful this morning. Considering changes. Time, weather, place. What to make of unwelcome changes?

Yesterday, driving from Lincoln to Rochester meant passing through most of Iowa on interstate highways. First miles and miles east to Des Moines on I-80 and then up, up, north and north through the “fruited plains” on I-35 until at last the bluffs of southeastern Minnesota gently rise.

About thirty miles west of Des Moines traffic suddenly slowed, came to a stop. We could see the road ahead was clogged with cars and trucks idling in the rain. An accident.  Someone’s tragedy unfolding far ahead; who we would never know. As we approached the standing point, some vehicles were making a k-turn, passing us on the shoulder and exiting the wrong way up the on-ramp. One questioning glance from Anita, and we were doing the same. It was a satisfying crime. A justifiable change of direction. We quickly followed a line of traffic heading cross-country. Along the back roads, we had time to call up Google Maps and decided to follow the perfectly paved Iowa county roads, straight and smooth, skipping Des Moines and Ames altogether.

A map of Iowa hints at its history – a perfect grid of right-angle roads. Rich, black soil precisely divided into sections worth millions. One mile on a side, 640 acres within the square. Farmland that made the lives of men and women who raised crops and animals to feed hundreds of others. Often there is still a stand of old trees on one corner of a section, remnants of a homestead, a house that might still be lived in, if it’s lucky, but the out-buildings –  the out-buildings. All dying, sinking back into the ground. Barns three stories high with an elevator still sitting beneath the haymow door as if one day the farmer was raptured, or died or moved to Arizona. Round barns, barns with graceful cupolas, hipped roofs, angled roofs, stone, oaken, bricked, square, reflecting styles of German, Norwegian, Dutch immigrants.
Iowa barn in winter
Not as many of these places are seen from the heavily traveled interstate, but on back roads they never leave your sight. County after county the quiet is eerie. In the stillness of winter the machines are gone, the land is dark, the buildings are broken, blackened, faded red. Granaries, barns, coops without an animal or human in sight.

Perhaps one reason American factory farming troubles me is because I feel alienated by it. I want to be wholly restored to land and creation. I want us to be careful caretakers of, not just the earth, but of people. I mourn empty places that were once alive with chickens, cows, horses and pigs. I want to repopulate them with children and dogs and tire swings. Restore a garden. Perhaps it is true Home I wait for – that impossible place of meaningful work and unbroken restoration God will bring about one day.

Tomorrow, I will be more settled. More distant from dying places I can’t fix. I will focus on my desk and maybe I’ll think about the small patch of urban earth outside our back door. Flower and seed catalogs are here and we need a few more climbing roses and stone walls for them to thrive upon.