Holy guacamole! Today’s been one of those emotionally confusing, wabi sabi, wibbly wobbly, don’t- know-if-we’re-coming-or-going kind of days here in Fairbanks.

It began this morning when little r and I accompanied my daughter to her obstetrician. D is 18 weeks along and we wanted to make sure everything was fine (it was) and find out the baby’s gender, as well as involve little r more in the process of getting ready to welcome his sibling.

We’d been reading books about pregnant mommies and other creatures, and our conversations on what it’s like to be a big brother to a freshly hatched sibling (featuring r’s machine gun “Why?” “Why?” “Why?”) had been going well. Little r and his Gooma (me) had spent an hour carrying stuffed animals under our t-shirts until he announced it was not very comfortable having a baby in his body (Amen!) and gave birth prematurely. I followed suit. After that, r insisted on dressing his “baby” (a pink elephant) in big boy panties like he wears and feeding it some Gummy Bunnies before slam-dunking the poor thing into one of his toy baskets.

We were more than ready to take the next step, to watch an ultrasound. Little r sat spellbound on the examination table as the doctor probed his mama, measured amnionic fluid, counted fingers and toes, and noted that the organs were all inside the baby’s body. The heartbeat was perfect. Ecstatically, the doc announced, “There’s the scrotum!”

“It’s a boy, r!” Dante chirped.


Courtesy Wikimedia Commons

“IT HAS A PEE-PEE!” little r shrieked loud enough to startle Sarah Palin into smearing her mascara all the way down in Wasilla.

It’s alive, thank God! I thought as we all clapped.

Back at home, while D slipped across town for a haircut little r and I set out on a shaggy mane hunt near the hangar. It had rained all night and I expected the gravel and grass field might have given birth to a few newbies. Here’s the one we, or rather r, found.


 And then we tossed fat rocks into the float pond and pretended to catch salmon with our birch branch poles.


As always, r caught a few more than I did. But the no-see-ums and mosquitoes eventually drove us nuts. We decided to race back home for lunch and that’s when we came across a dead thrush in the gravel near our front door. It was lying just under a large window and had probably crashed hard into its own reflection, broken a wing and died instantly.


This encounter was hard on r because the day before we’d come across a dead shrew lying at the side of a trail we were hiking. All he could say now was, “Oh, no.”

But little r is an Alaskan toddler and therefore hearty. I asked him, “Do you want to bury the thrush after lunch, r?”

“Not in a dark place,” he said.

Over plates of spaghetti and applesauce, we made a plan. After his mama came home we would tell her what happened, find a shovel in the hangar, bury the thrush next to the shaggy mane, then r would bless the bird and we’d call it good.


Red-Booted r and Mama Heading to the Hangar for a Shovel

IMG_3071r and Mama Digging the Grave,
(Note the Shaggy Mane Close to the Shovel)


 Thrush is About to be Interred, Shaggy Mane Towers Above


Interment Complete

Little r finished the ceremony with his heartfelt blessing. “Bless the bird, bless the shaggy mane, bless Mama and Gooma. Can we have some hot cocoa?”

“And bless little r,” I added as we headed back into the house because of the bugs.

We searched the InterWeb and confirmed that ours was a Swainson’s thrush, famous for its lovely song which you can hear by clicking below.

Lastly, even though we’d just buried a lifeless bird, little r and I felt better after we spent time looking at the photo below of a similar thrush when it was alive, and of course sipping hot cocoa, also helped.


Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

All photos by the author, except those labeled otherwise.

20 thoughts on “A Matter of Life and Death

  1. Delightful! My kids don’t take the older ones to MD appts.– and haven’t asked me to go (maybe the difference between daughters and daughter- in laws?)– love the idea of the animals as babies.. and what a lovely outing. Enjoy!


  2. Must have been lovely to see the new little life forming! I remember seeing Danny on the ultrasound, and watching her blink. Little r is so cute.


    • Ah, Nicci, so you’ve had the ultrasound experience, too. It’s so amazing and I don’t believe any of us breathed as we watched our tiny human wave his hand around in the warm sea in which he swims. D said it was quite extraordinary both watching and feeling him move. ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  3. What a gooma! Magical day — one which will pay off years from now when that little tyke is 18 and wants to spend more time with you. I’m seeing all the rewards of those early years with almost adult grandchildren!


    • Thanks, SWS! I couldn’t be more in love with the wee wiggler. Today he trotted downstairs to my bedroom, flipped on the overhead light, and handed me a couple of his favorite train engines with the comment, “These are for you, Gooma. They can ride up to the top of Purple Mountain (my pillow).” Now, that’s a great way to wake up!


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