We arrived in Minnesota early Sunday afternoon after two days of driving and two nights of miserable lodging. It's hard to imagine making this drive anymore after a dozen years of doing so, twice annually, and it's quite possible this will be our last. Rex's ability to take in oxygen is at its limit as is the machine's ability to provide it. He is slowly suffocating to death. We like to imagine his lungs will finally give out under the influence of morphine and heavy sleep, but one can't know.
His days are filled with an anxiety of breathlessness and jokes mustered around such a condition and a general disposition lighter than one might expect. Every now and then he makes it to his Estonia grand, orchestrating his nimble, digital memory. We cook and although he passes on most lunches, he eagerly takes in dinners under the magical influence of prednisone. We are lucky for his nine to five caregiver, Patsy, whom he listens to as much as she patiently listens to him. The dissolution of age will come for us all, gradually or quite suddenly. It is best to have a plan.
The best indicator of Rex's declining health was the gradual but evident retaking of the trails by plants and fallen timber. Many have become impassable with tangled windfalls and occasional widow-makers, the soft padding of chips disintegrated into soil, the buckthorn and even trillium growing center trail. There was considerable flooding this spring and the smaller marsh became the smaller pond, it's overflow draining underneath this bridge. The rain fell so long and heavy that pond waters rose high enough to float the bridge, dismantling it, and nearly over washing the driveway forty feet beyond. In other words, the woods is a mess and in need of a chainsaw samaritan who will work for cord upon cord of wood. Do you know one in the Twin Cities area? Email me.
The moisture and cool, darkened understory has produced a good crop of mushrooms, like these corals and those below.
Ductifera pululahuana or the White Jelly (Roll)
Last year's unharvested chicken, the ghost chicken.
Right alongside the driveway, growing on a strategically placed, chainsawed oak stool, is this summer's small but wanted chicken.
A day later it looked like this.
And the day after that, we harvested.