Odd Little Funerals


Long ago, some animals got used to the smell of people. We cannot be sure where
in the world animals were first offered too much convenience, but places like Winnipeg
and Reykjavik were once inhabited by skilled animal trainers. You might want to borrow
a large map that you can trace on a sheet of butcher paper. You might want to mark the
places where these tragedies first occurred. You might want to help isolate their influence
and color them blue.
Perhaps the people who lived in such places were once excellent hunters. Perhaps
the piles of bones and meat scraps near the home of a hunter were fine places for a
hungry animal to get food more easily. Perhaps more than food was offered and this
confused the animals.
We know from numerous folktales that Winnipeg was once the center of a great
deceivers’ empire. Here the duplicitous lonely people discovered that horses and pack
dogs can be especially friendly and inquisitive. Do you think the land where they lived
was too cold and isolated? What other kinds of once wild creatures may have once
existed in such confusing locations?
However, according to at least one legend, even animals who are not very hungry
will come right up and snatch the meat away. In those days, tearing devices were usually
located directly above the mouth to allow easier insertion of the prey. The ability to
distinguish subtle flavors had not yet become desirable. The legend suggests that animals
may eventually become slower and more difficult to use for motion sensors. Sometimes
they will fight and get the answers wrong to quiz show questions. Perhaps these things
could remind us that we were once easily confused as well. Stealing a reluctant mate
from the neighbor’s den, for example. Or dragging a frozen casket of woven reeds
through the wild onions.
Sometimes barefoot elders can be found walking down the road asking, “What
kinds of plants grow here?” and “What do the children eat?” and “Why are we still living
in this place?” They have not learned to avoid thinking about the great mysteries, which
keeps them from enjoying the comforts of senility.
The place where an idea begins has been called a source. We do not know the
source of animal taming, but we believe it was preceded by a desire, just as warm winds
blowing in from the warm sea make the spring come very early. Many anxious thoughts
live in the earth as well, but where did the earth begin?
Too many big thoughts can make your head small. Perhaps that is why when a little
whirlwind combs your hair with red dust, you might think about ants. You might wish to
escape with them on your neighbor’s motorcycle. You might wish to have a picnic. This
is not the same thing as animal husbandry, which keeps us from sleeping when we seem
to be engaged in dying or replenishment of fluids. It used to smell different. It used to
close that little mouth faster. It used to listen.

Rich Ives is the author of Tunneling to the Moon: A Psychological Gardener’s Book of Days currently being published in serial @ Silenced Press everyday in 2014 and forthcoming in paperback. Begin from the beginning, catch up, read daily. Just refer to the Burrow Guide.