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Sunday, August 9, 2009

JR'S MIND

groundhog in the garden

I can't say I know Jr well enough to make his decisions. But neither does anyone else. This morning at 10 til 5 I woke with lights on and Jr sitting in his place on the couch looking through his half a dozen pocket notebooks where he keeps phone numbers, never remembering which is in which. They're most often spread all over the coffee table top, under things, on top of things, wherever they happen to be. I never dare attempt to guess what motivates him about anything he does, especially in the night, sitting up alert like it was middle of the day in his maroon sweatshirt, gray sweatpants and white socks.
He was worried about Jimmy Gibson. Twice somebody called to tell him something bad had happened to Jimmy, but he couldn't make out what they were saying. Jimmy has spent quite a stretch of time in the hospital over his heart again. He's out, but weak and slow going. His wife, Elsie, is Everyman's dream wife. I either slept through the phone ringing twice, which is unlikely, or Jr had another dream that merged with his awake world. I looked at the history on the phone ID screen and there had been no call. A dream. He'd had another of his dreams as real as everyday life. I helped him find Jimmy's number. I reminded him it was 5 in the morning. Let's give Jimmy and Elsie a break and not wake them up if they're sleeping. He couldn't believe they could be sleeping because he'd been talking to someone on the phone. On top of that, he wanted to know what happened to Jimmy. He had a feeling it was something bad.
A few minutes ago I heard 2 dogs barking close by. I saw the legs of 2 dogs the other side of Jr's parked car. It looked like a third something hidden by the back tire. I wondered if it might be a young gray cat that comes through here from time to time. I ran out and beat on the trunk lid of the car to scare the dogs. It was a groundhog the same size as the dogs. The noise didn't scare any of them. One in front, one in back, attacking alternately. As groundhog turned to one dog, the other attacked from behind. They kept him going back and forth like that. The groundhog bit one of them a couple of times and hung on making the dog squeal. Then the other went at groundhog from behind. I saw immediately they were not going to kill the groundhog. They were just worrying it, giving it a bad day.
I ran to the house to get the camera. My presence didn't slow the dogs down, leading me to believe I could get some pictures. The sun was at my back, meaning glare in the camera's monitor, meaning I had to point in their direction and click an image by guess. Mostly it worked. No attempt made to get a particular sort of picture, I clicked, clicked, clicked, mostly getting one dog at a time. It felt kind of cold to be taking pictures when I could run the dogs off easily and give the groundhog a break. There was no way these two dogs could kill this groundhog. They were the ones at risk. Groundhog was the same size as the dogs and probably the same weight as both of them together. The groundhog was so fat it couldn't maneuver very well. It had bite marks on its tail and the dogs had bite marks on their necks. They kept the groundhog turning back and forth between them. Groundhog hide is thick and they have razor-sharp beaver teeth.
The dogs were getting discouraged when the groundhog backed under a pile of tall growth where all the dogs could see was the hog's mouth, which they'd both experienced. This is where I got the picture above. Click on the picture to blow it up and see the groundhog's teeth, 2 above and 2 below. The dogs, aware they were being watched, took off under the fence to the meadow on their way home. Both dogs had blood on their necks. Now I understand why I'd been seeing those two dogs, individually snooping around the garden. The garden is the groundhog's feast table.
Harry, the gardener, would rather the groundhog be dead, but I don't see any reason why. No human is missing anything; he's planted such an abundance. Why not share a little. The groundhog's hole is out of the way of cattle stepping in it. What he eats from the garden doesn't show. I won't tell Jr I saw the groundhog, because he'd want me to shoot it. He knows better, though, knows I wouldn't shoot it. I don't see a problem with a groundhog eating leaves the humans don't want anyway. If it were my garden and groundhogs were not allowed, I'd put a fence around it. No fence means to me, groundhogs welcome. No problem.
I didn't want have to explain to Jr the two phone calls were a dream, which I've done in the past. All that does is beliwder him and make him worry all the next day about losing his mind. I tend not to see it as losing his mind. I see his inner world and outer world intermingling, becoming one without distinction between dream and reality. That amounts to losing his mind. I'm having a hard time with this word reality when I see it's a dream too. I know no other word for it but illusion, though that's too hard to explain. I'll go on calling it reality for clarity. I convinced him it might be better to wait until 8 or 9 to call Elsie, just in case they're sleeping. I said, Can you wait three hours? He said he could and reluctantly went back to bed.
This morning Jr couldn't get up. He stayed in bed drifting in his mind between asleep and awake, where he spends most of his time in this phase of his life. I called Jimmy around 11 and he was all right, nothing bad happened. A few minutes after 12 Dean Richardson drove his Fleetwood land-yacht up the driveway delivering two spicy chicken burgers from Burger King. Jr got up while Dean was here and hobbled with the walker to his seat on the couch. While Dean and I talked, Jr followed key words for what we were talking about. I told Jr I'd called Jimmy and he's ok. Dean told me later that he saw a visible relaxation come over Jr when I told him nothing had happened to Jimmy.

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