Sunday, January 7, 2007

My Land

My house is set on an elevated corner of a two acre plot of land which slopes down to a pond and overlooks another ten acres of nature preserve, with wetlands and two more ponds. Trees and brush hide most other houses that border this preserve. Between the house and my pond lie the gardens and grasses of a natural hillscape, designed and planted by the former owner in cooperation with nature’s Creator. Together they built the pond, planted the trees, flowers, bushes and grasses - then invited the birds and butterflies, the fish and the frogs.

The former owner was an undertaker who spent most of his working life in the basement of a funeral home - making the dead presentable to the living. Much of his free time, I surmise, was spent on this land - dressing and keeping it, as did the first Adam. His wife was an artist - the house filled with her paintings. The man did his art outside (and in that funeral home basement).

I met the man, but did not get to know him. This leaves me free to imagine him as I want. I speculate on his life - a life lived between the living and the dead. What was he thinking? Was he thinking of his land while he dressed the dead? Did he think about the dead while he worked the land? Was the seasonal cycle of the land (which died in the winter, but always came to life in the spring) a source of constant hope and joy for him as he went about the gruesome tasks of his profession. I think so. He was a happy man.

I bought this land and with it the necessity of caring for it. I wonder what I can possibly do to improve it. To change it in any significant way seems strangely sacrilegious. It is twice not mine. It belongs to an undertaker and his God.

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