Flying Over I-40 South. With Bird Calls.

It’s been 9 months, and we receive a piercing reminder of the only certainties in life: Death and Taxes. Tucked way at the back of the mailbox, sits a single, slight envelope – a bill for the license fee for Zeke’s tags. He’s gone damn it. He’s gone.

Dog tags. Metal to metal, nothing rubbing, nothing jingling. Just nothing.  Inert, they lay in an extra coin jar in the mud room, on top of dirty pennies, dimes, nickels and a few silver quarters. His weathered, leather leash, without him on the end of it, has been stored, way away.  Loose Change. Bone to Bone. Dust to dust. Nothing.

Melancholia saddles up and storms in.

I pull up the covers, and shiver.

It’s Spring. Low humidity. Soft intermittent rains. And nights sleeping with open windows.

With no bird dog leaning in…with no bird dog head nestling, warming my feet, there’s no longer a need to keep windows closed. No need for closed windows to block bird calls, those bird calls which triggered his wiring, which set off that nose, those whiskers, that twitching against the thigh as he adjusts his head to get a better look and better sniff; those same bird calls which would launch this Man’s Best Friend on high alert, jacking up his pulse rate and his innate need to run, to find and to flush. You ain’t running here no more. This Man’s leaning in on himself and falling over.

The window is wide open. A bird call interrupts the dark and the silence. 3:43 am.

Does she sleep? Or like a dolphin, does half her brain shut down, so the other half can monitor predators? How does she wake each morning with a Solo and always between 3:40 am to 3:55 am? Is she singing? Talking? To whom? To Me? About what? Does she sleep in trees? In her nest? Warming her eggs? Singing to her babies as any Mother would? Rock-a-bye baby, On the tree top, When the wind blows, The cradle will rock. When the bough breaks

By 4:10 am, she has wound up the entire neighborhood, and we’ve moved from solo to choir.  Bird song lifts the gates, the silvery light of dawn shimmering – the tide sweeps away the heaviness: Lightly Child, Lightly.  And here it comes: playing in the head on a loop…“Ain’t no passing craze.  It means no worries. For the rest of your days. It’s our problem-free philosophy. Hakuna Matata!”

The bird song reaches a crescendo, percussion, drums, guitars, horns, nature’s perfect harmony dragging my soul – Up, Up, Up.

Circle of Life Brother.

Circle of Life.

Inspired by:

The grief of the failed nest echoes in an entirely different register, but it is still a grief. In Tennessee it’s common for cardinals to nest twice in a season, hatching between two and five eggs each time, but few of their young will survive. The world is not large enough to contain so many cardinals, and predators must eat, too, and feed their young. It should not trouble me to know the sharp-eyed crow will feed its babies with hatchlings it steals from the cardinals, but I have watched day after day as the careful redbird constructed a sturdy nest in the laurel, and I have calculated how many days and nights she has sat upon those eggs, how many trips she has made to the nest to feed the babies, how many times she has sheltered them through a downpour. Day after day after day.

~ Margaret Renkl, from “Springtime’s Not-So-Peaceable Kingdom”, The New York Times · June 3, 2017


  1. One of our friends recently “rescued” a Vizsla and while her name is “Tegan”, I think of Zeke whenever I see her. Even though I never met Zeke, we became close through your stories.

    Regardless of what happens in our lives, the birds will always sing.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Ahhh, pal, this is achingly beautiful, and you’re right, the birdsong lifts one up. They’re so insistently, dependably cheerful. Haven’t you waited long enough? Isn’t it time for a new buddy? Potty training is always easier in the summertime and there’s nothing like a warm, fat belly and puppy breath to make everything go down a little more gently….

    Liked by 2 people

  3. rakanigan says:

    When is the new puppy coming?!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Sending a huge hug. I remember the void in our home when our cat passed (even though she was a cat, not a dog). It’s heartbreaking.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Must be time for a new one soon???

    Liked by 1 person

  6. So tell me…
    Why is it that the most beautiful writing seems to always come from pain?

    As much as I can’t wait to see you and your family with a new dog, I know Zeke will always be missed. That ache for Zeke will not go away.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Our dogs bring us peace and love like no others. Zeke will always live in your heart David. Yet there is also room in your heart for an other 💕

    Liked by 1 person

  8. beautful, dk. some parts of the circle are harder to go ’round than than the others –

    Liked by 1 person

  9. This was beautiful, David. I am not looking forward to the day MY Zeke is no more. I don’t think I’d be in any rush to get another furry friend for a good while either… Funny how the little things trigger so much. Hugs!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Beautifully written; I can feel all of the emotions you are going through…

    Liked by 1 person

  11. A warm hug to you. Grief is so very difficult.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. That’s it. Bird song. And a puppy. or a rescue dog. Thank you for this beautiful writing.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. The cardinals must feel the same grief as we do when they lose the ones they dearly love and yet, they rise again each and every morning to sing another song and start a new day knowing they are no longer with us. Not an easy task some days, but it is how we heal. Zeke and the birds remind you that nothing in life is permanent and we need to make peace with this 🙏🏻 beautiful share Mr K 👏

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Such excellent writing, David. So poignant; each word chosen for maximum impact to mirror your depth of feeling, I presume. We lost our hounddog many months ago now, her ashes resting in a cedar box where we, the least likely to maintain a shrine to a deity maintain a shrine to her in our living room. Chris teared up just last evening speaking about something she once did. We, too awken to birdsong; at first a couple, then the chorus of which you speak. We have created a fenced-in 1/2 acre garden haven for them to dine, bask and bathe and be safe from predators such as cats or mongoose. Occasionally there is one tiny Mejiro bird sitting like a lump in the bird bath, having given up on ever opening its lovely white-rimmed eyes to take flight on its silvery green wings. But somehow we are drawn to looking out at just the right moment, in time to dry off and restore the little creatures to the ball of flying fluff it once was. I’ve not lost one yet, fingers crossed as these things go. The birds and animals and all of nature accept with such apparent (peace? resignation?) that which arrives on the breath of the gods. Would that we, too could accept change this gracefully, even unto life and death. Blessings and Aloha to you, dear one. ❤ Lovely, lovely post.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thank you for your kind words Bela. As to your backyard haven, have you read this:

      And so curious, have you and Chris found another dog (impossible to replace the hound dog memories of course)?

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thanks for the recommend, David, will read. As for replacing Susami, impossible, as you know, to do so. She was the 3rd with the addition of little Lulubelle, found on the side of the road with a broken back and now that painful rehab a distant memory as she spins and darts across any expanse of ground … We are back to 2 dogs, best for us, really. Though our Lab Chudleigh is due to expire soon – he’s 16 – and when he does, we have sworn we’ll get another hounddog, the sweetest breed we’ve ever experienced. But you, yourself know there is no replacement for the being that was That Dog. Blessings to you, David ❤

        Liked by 1 person

        • Awwww Bela. I can’t get the back story of Lulubelle out of my head. Wow. What a beautiful story for you to rescue. I don’t think I will ever forget this single sentence. Thank you for sharing.

          Liked by 1 person

  15. You’re moving into a new slot on the grief continuum where the trigger expands to offer more. There’s hope in that, if we cultivate it. And you are.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. David – I still have Old Pepper’s ashes by my bedside with her collar sitting on top of the tin. Can’t bear to part with them even though she only really resides in memories and images. My
    opinion – you can’t replace a dog but you can add to your pack. Best thoughts to you!

    Liked by 2 people

  17. Tears rolling down my cheeks. Our Henry’s been gone three years, but his leash is still on our lamp post and his photo still displayed on our walls. His presence is still around us. And yes, the Birdsong lifts us up every morning. They’re a bit more decent about it here-more around five am. We have about three families of Cardinals in our yard and in our trees. They are gloriously beautiful. I did not know that their eggs and hatchlings are snatched so often. They hide their sadness with sweet song and bright energy.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Your blog is very beautiful ❤ ❤ ❤


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