Ramble with the Lady: Death


Credit: Dale Bowman

It’s hard to tell if a sun is setting or rising, unless you are there in the moment.

My last “Ramble with the Lady’’ was nearly four months ago on straycasts.net on May 24.

Death and life intervened.

A Cooper’s hawk screeched down the street from a tree in the church yard as Lady, our family’s mutt, and I rambled off this morning. I could not find the hawk, but sure as hell could hear it.

There are many reasons for the lack of “Rambles’’ for months.

Foremost is my sister’s death in early July. In a month and a half, I or we made three trips into Washington D.C., including for her funeral and her youngest daughter’s wedding a few days before my sister’s death. So time for work became of the essence.

And if you wondering, I’m trying to make sense of it all.

No, I am not sitting around crying my eyes for months. I had my cry. If you’re a guy and don’t know how to cry, let me offer some advice. You’re crying right if guttural sounds are erupting from your chest, from somewhere deep down around the area of your heart.

One of the last things my sister said to my dad was “I don’t understand why now.’’

My sister was a god-fearing woman who lived a righteous life, down to eating “happy’’ (organic) eggs and meats.

She was my only sister, the only girl with five brothers. She was directly ahead of me by four years in family order. I am next to the youngest. She was only 62. That is way too young.

In terms of lifestyle, it would make far more sense for me to have died early. Not my sister.

One thing her death did was sharpen my sense of time.

Yes, I do have a fascination with time. Regular readers know I often end my travel or adventure oriented outdoors columns for the Sun-Times with “It was time.’’

It was not time for my sister, at least not in my view.

That sort of justice in life is not easily explained in Judeo-Christian tradition. I am Christian, but I struggle to make sense of things such as my sister’s death. There is no justice.

If you’re pastor, priest or rabbi, don’t waste my time or yours trying to impose logic on something that doesn’t make sense.

One thing that came out of my sister’s death was a focus by me on my use of time. By that I don’t mean that I am running out to convert non-believers in some distant continent but rather that I do the things that make sense to me.

That means I value the mundaneness of family life, the Dynamo soccer games of the youngest, the drumming of our three sons, the jazz band playing of our daughter (not unlike my sister, the only girl with three brothers), and even the playing of Pokémon GO! by all four of our kids.

For those who haven’t noticed, I stopped doing “Stray Casts’’ television show after returning from my sister’s funeral. I want to go in another direction. Not sure where I want to go in radio or TV in the coming months or year, but I will sort it out eventually.

I am focused on my regular work of doing the outdoors for the Sun-Times. I enjoy the grind of it, the stories of readers, the search for wild knowledge, just the regular shifts of the seasons and that impact on activities in the outdoors.

And yes, for those wondering, I hope to finally wrap up my book.

That’s my life going forward.

Well, I think I am finally pulling out of being so burrowed inward that I missed much of the wildlife around me on the “Rambles” with trying to make sense of my sister’s death, which doesn’t fit easily into sense. But as I pull out of that inwardness, I expect the “Rambles” to return.

I have been so buried in thought in recent months that I failed to notice until this morning that a few of the trees and brush around the town pond are already turning yellow. Time is relentless.

Credit: Dale Bowman

Credit: Dale Bowman

To my credit, I have noticed on my morning rambles with Lady that the fall flowers were shooting into bloom around the town pond.

I am not sure if this is a sunflower. My wife did not think it is a cupflower. She thought it was more likely a variation on a daisy. Help from anyone is welcome.

Again the fall air is heavy like summer. More heat coming I take it. But it is like fall in that very little was stirring around the town pond as we crossed the side rail separating the town from the wildness around the two old clay pits.

Not even a belted kingfisher or sandpiper this morning.

Back on the edge of town, the life-affirming smell of the just-cooked meat fillings for burritos and tacos hung in the still air.

As we walked toward Station Street, I noticed the chef/cook, source of those wonderful comfort-food smells, driving his food truck out of town, I assume toward some of the migrant workers in the fields east of town.

We waved to each other, and moved on.

The setup for our town’s annual fall festival has begun, kiddy rides already set up next to the bank.

I noticed the sunrise at the top and, as I stepped into the middle of Station to take the photo, a school bus pulling out waited for me to finish. I think the driver also appreciated the sunrise. She was smiling as she waved.

Back home, my wife’s rose bush by the front steps has burst out with a late round of smaller red flowers.

Grass to mow in the backyard before the dew burns off.

With a push reel mower, it cuts better with wet grass, another reason to use the manly, morally-superior mower. If you are wondering what I mean by that, there’s an excellent explanation of the advantages of push reel mowers on the artofmanliness.com.

I digress.

Lady acts much the same.Credit: Dale Bowman

Lady acts much the same.Credit: Dale Bowman

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