Yesterday morning I looked out our bedroom window and swore; I thought the dogs had scattered our garbage across the lawn again. I envisioned spending the morning picking up smelly diapers, coffee grounds, and old Lotto tickets. I even entertained the option of trying to mow up the garbage like it was fall leaves. It was early -- maybe 6:00 AM -- and my eyes were a little blurry and when I rubbed them clear I saw that the "garbage" was nothing more than the usual assortment of dead and decaying things that litter our lawn all winter.
It's disgusting, and quite possibly unhealthy, but we have four dogs that feel it's necessary to provide us with lawn ornaments. We'd settle for gnomes and flamingoes, but they prefer the macabre. Yesterday, as we all sat outside and soaked in a little afternoon sunshine, I heard Regina gasp. I looked up to see Chowder bringing in a fresh decoration. Horses, like dogs and good cats, are buried on our ranch, but somehow Chowder, or bears, or the wild neighbor boys, dug up one of our old faithfuls and exposed an entire foot for the dogs to bring in.
Currently on our lawn (and I just inventoried), we have parts of the raccoon that attacked Chowder the day after Christmas, a complete coyote skull, half a cow skull, an assortment of large bovine bones, twenty or thirty chewed up shed antlers, several freshly killed squirrels, the hoof, and a pile of feathers from some dim-witted bird (the cats felt like they needed to contribute as well). It's like a touch-and-feel Natural History Museum.
I have great promise for Dylan's soccer skills because she's A) 1/4 Brasilian, and B) has learned to run and weave around the bones like Pele through defenders. Aside from the smell of rotting flesh and the flies they attract, the upside is that our kids are getting terrific anatomy and skeletal lessons. Dylan can differentiate between coyote and cow teeth and Grady can tell you that magpie feathers taste very different from pigeon feathers.
I'll have the lawn mower ready soon, but if I want to save my blade, I'll need to clean up the bones first. It's amazing what a little spring-cleaning will do. The smell will go away and friends will feel that it's safe to visit again. I'll probably bury the bones and carcasses so they don't keep reappearing and someday, a thousand years from now, some robot-archeologist will excavate them and conclude that a horse-cow-coyote-bird-raccoon creature once ruled Hartstrand Gulch.