Memento Mori

It’s a broody October morning that feels like a Dutch one — as only October mornings are wont to in these parts. The trees are baring all but the grass is still green. Dampness lingers long after a dawn that seems less than convinced it isn’t going to run right back to where it came from for another nap. Hundreds of small black birds flock through the field.

At a medical office, an elderly woman is checking in as I am paying my bill. “Date of birth?,” inquires the receptionist. “2/10/29,“ she responds casually. But for me, the world just lurched.

I keep perfectly still, pen paused in the air, to weather the wave of anguish that threatens to knock me into the field with the birds. February tenth, 1929. She was born eight months before the great stock market crash. Just more than a year after she who was born on 10/28/1927. Agatha senior has been gone for seven years now.

As I leave the office I look back one more time. She is very much alive. Tiny, a friendly, very round face, and standing up straight at the reception, the waiting room otherwise empty. She appears to be there by herself. I hope she has kids who love her to bits because she is just as independent as my mother was.


Dawn brings fog and an inch-and-a-half in the rain gauge. Finally. Descending to the bog, hound bounding ahead for his date with the beaver, I try desperately, and once again, and once again probably to no avail, to get a hold of the understory beeches that now dominate the woods with yellow glistening leaves, hogging the light and dulling the dark red maple leaves littering the trail.

Crows are gathering for winter and they are loud about it.

As I get closer the sound of rushing water starts to drown out the neighbors’ rooster and the boy calling his dog with newfound power in his almost-teenage voice. The bog is its  own world. I find it at a high tide today, the level finally back up to the stick I poked into the ground as a high water mark oh, back in 2014 I think,  before the beavers ceased maintaining the dam and the water started receding.

As I leave the bog it’s fruitless to call the hound while he is mesmerized by the slap of a beaver’s tail. When I don’t see him I am sure he must have drowned but he’s swimming alright, his orange jacket moving back and forth across the receding bog. All things being equal, he’d prefer to follow me but today he is lured back time and again by the beaver trying desperately to distract him away from the lodge.

How ironic.

On the way home, the pines are throwing their scent around, announcing late fall.

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4 thoughts on “Memento Mori

  1. Through the years I (and we) know so much of your Mother through you. It’s an honor. And that first bog pic is up there with the absolute best!

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