Or, the One About the Dead Animals.
Part of the attraction to exurban living, at least for my children, is bestial. As a bribe, we promised them a new puppy upon our arrival. We tantalized them with the image of our cossetted housecat being set free to sunbathe al fresco. We showed them pictures of the stables, the chicken coop, the pond, and allowed their little, fecund minds to wander to 4H-y type thoughts of all creatures great and small.
We didn't talk, or think, about the other parts of the circle of life.
Our intrepid cat, Fiammo, spent many of our first days here skulking around the property (and, by property, I mean NOT the entire fifteen acres, but rather, the boundary of the house and its porch) doing his best to appear important while chasing bugs and scooting under the porch at the slightest unexpected sound (woodpeckers, anyone?) Dido kept hopefully asking him if he'd found anything--"Did you see a mouse, little boy?" and so on. I was surprised and secretly delighted, assuming that contrary to what I suspected, not every cat is born to be a great mouser, or, even better, our barns were not, in fact, housing plague-carrying rodent colonies.
Then, two mornings ago, while Dido and the Babe were outside supervising the Puppy's morning gambol (the prelude to her satisfying pee and poop on my kitchen floor), I heard a shout of glee and Dido came barreling in through the dining room. "LOOK MAMA!! LOOK!!!" I didn't really have to look, because the glimpse of gray fur in the palm of his hand -- did I mention, IN HIS HAND???-- was enough to tell me that Fiammo was at last fulfilling his feline destiny. After some vigorous soapy hand scrubbing and a compromise burial at the root of an oak tree ("You CANNOT put him in the trash, Mom. You CAN'T.") I heard another shriek of delight.
The Puppy trotted up with something stringy, brownish gray and vaguely slimy trailing from the corners of her smiling mouth. "Look, Mom. We do have frogs."
Indeed. We do.