Betty Duffy

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Burning Stuff

One day last week, the dog chased a raccoon into a tree. My boys threw rocks at it, trying to make it fall out of the tree, until I intervened and put the kids and the dog away for awhile.

Nevertheless, the following day, the raccoon was dead in the yard. It was unclear who the perpetrator might have been, and it’s possible that the raccoon was starving and fell out of the tree on its own. Not likely, but possible.

So I dug a hole, and the kids all gathered around to put the dead raccoon in the ground.

Twenty-four hours passed, before the raccoon appeared again, dangling from the jaws of my dog’s gleeful mouth. The dog had un-dug our hole and unearthed the raccoon, and now the children didn’t want to go near it because I told them there might be worms in it. But the dog was happy, and had to be lured away from the corpse with a hot-dog.

I didn’t want to dig another hole only to have it un-dug again, so I used the shovel, this time to put the raccoon in the fire-pit. My husband enjoys making fires, burns lots of wood scraps and saw-dust, and set about cooking up the raccoon. It smelled like sausage for the better part of the afternoon.

By evening, however, when the fire had fizzled out, the charred raccoon began to emit a less-than-savory fragrance. “Can’t you do something about it?” I asked my husband, but he was squeamish and crinkled his nose.

I got the shovel again, and went out to the pit to see why the body wouldn’t disappear, and I flipped it over to discover that the underside of the raccoon was still very raw. So, I shoveled the raccoon again, this time into a garbage bag and carried it out to the curb, from which, I’m happy to report, he was removed the following morning.

Getting rid of the raccoon was the biggest challenge I faced over the weekend, and I probably went about it all wrong.

The next biggest challenge has been trying to find where, in a frenzy of self-control, I hid the chocolate chips from myself. I thought they were with the beans and onions in the dark, dry, lower cabinet in the corner. But they’re not.

I looked in the baking cabinet, the vice cabinet, the craft cabinet, and the old-dishes-I-never-use cabinet. I looked in the oven, where I found two sweet potatoes that I cooked several days ago and forgot to eat. The sweet potatoes have carmelized sugar around the edges of their foil wrappings, and I’m wondering if the sugar may have preserved the potatoes so that I can still eat them. I love sweet potatoes.

But the chocolate has apparently gone up in smoke.

Different day, different fire, my husband wouldn’t come in from the fire pit at night, and I was getting annoyed because I can’t fall asleep until he’s in bed, and I was tired. So I wrapped up in a blanket and walked out to see what he was doing out there, which was nothing. He likes to just sit and watch the scrap wood burn.

So I sat for a minute and watched it burn too. It was very relaxing—a cozy perspective to be wrapped up in a blanket out in our field, looking back at the house, with its lights on like a little gingerbread house, our children asleep inside. A sliver moon, a few stars, bats chattering in the sky—I could see why my husband was reluctant to call it a night.

Had I not come out to join him, he’d eventually have come in with a little existential experience under his belt, and found me looking at the computer or reading a book, huffing and puffing because I wanted to go to bed, and he was keeping me up. It would have been difficult for him not to look down his nose at me.


Jamie said...

This post made me laugh and laugh, until my baby stopped nursing to look up and laugh. With a slightly puzzled look on her face -- she doesn't know what's so funny, but it must be something good.

nicole said...

My husband also loves to burn stuff and can stare at a fire for hours. It is peaceful.

Melanie B said...

What is it with dead raccoons? When I was in high school a 40 pound raccoon crawled into the walls of our English classroom and died over spring vacation. It took weeks for them to locate the source of the stench. I now know far too well what a rotting corpse smells like.

Is it possible one of the kids found your chocolate stash? I used to raid my mom's Coke stash because I knew she was forgetful and half the time couldn't remember how many there were, if there were any at all. Poor mom, she kept them for her migraines. I just needed the caffeine buzz.

I used to be like that, not able to fall asleep until my husband was in bed too. I didn't know anyone else did that. However at some point in the past few years I got over it and started valuing sleep more than whatever it was that kept me awake.

Rebekka said...

If you are like me, you ate those chocolate chips ages ago, and the only thing left is denial.

Melanie said...

Living in the country definitely has its own unique experiences. I remember when I was a little girl and my sister insisted on having funerals for all the animals that would die on the farm. It used to drive me crazy but I smiled today thinking back on it after reading your post.

BettyDuffy said...

Mel B, Short of a proper and successful burial, It is way more difficult to dispose of a body than one would think. You've got to hand it to the nutjobs who pull off murder and manage to dispose of the evidence.

I know I handled that bag of chocolate chips last week. I remember looking at it and thinking I need to put these away somewhere. And I haven't eaten them or cooked with them since then. Which leaves the kids still as a viable option. They already do that coke thing, and think they're pretty sneaky. It would not surprise me at all if I find an empty wrapper in their room soon.

Matter of fact, a couple years ago when my son was selling candy bars ($1 apiece), a large portion of the inventory went missing. I found eight candy bar wrappers behind my daughter's bed. She was only three at the time.

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