Brandon

Brandon is dead.  Squished between the compost bin and the chicken wire, flat on his back, his little arms and legs tucked against his belly, I know it’s him. His spotted fur still looked soft and full making me think his demise was very recent.   Or maybe he was sleeping?  Do skunks sleep on their backs?  Leaving their bellies exposed?  I looked closer.   Brandon was decapitated.  Did he somehow get stuck under the chicken wire?   The ends of the wire are sharp, not as dangerous as barbed wire but it would still hurt.   Yet I couldn’t imagine that the wire was strong enough to cut through his neck.  And his head was gone.  Another animal must have done the nasty deed, perhaps a fight over property rights.  I would never know.

My heart ached a little.   Brandon was my first critter friend at least until I erected the chicken wire fence to keep him out of the compost bin.   I hadn’t seen evidence of him for months until recently when I noticed something had been partying in the compost bin.  Empty through the summer it was starting to fill again.   The guests are coming in droves now that the summer heat is gone.   Environmentally conscious, they recycle their cardboard and plastic and drop organic matter into the compost bin making it attractive once again to the local wildlife.   Egg shells and orange rinds littered the back of the house and the wire was bent low and pulled apart at the seam.  The aroma told me a skunk was the culprit and I wondered if it was Brandon.   I peeked inside but never saw him. 

I put the bin back in order.   I shoveled all the decaying matter into a wheelbarrow and mixed it in with the compost pile near the garden.   I reset the chicken wire and rocks, tightening and fastening the seam then finished up by tidying the ground.  Days went by, guests came and went and the bin remained secure and animal free.  Until yesterday.   I smelled Brandon as I rounded the corner of the house.  A banana peel hung over the bent chicken wire and egg shells covered the ground.  From the extent of the damage I figured it must be a striped skunk, a breed twice the size of Brandon.  I cleaned things up once again knowing I needed to come up with a better system.   But before I could make improvements, I found Brandon.

Using a shovel I tried to pry Brandon out from between the wire and the bin but he was wedged tight, his tail pinned under the wire.  I rocked him back and forth a bit until his tail came free allowing me to flip his little body end over end to the opening in the wire.  Gingerly I grasped a wisp of tail and pulled him out, trying to free him without inflicting further damage. 

Prone on the ground, he looked so tiny.  Stop being silly, I thought.  This is part of the cycle of life, but I still felt sad.   I remembered the first time I saw Brandon, his black button eyes peering up at me from inside the bin. He was delightful!  Cute and calm, he never sprayed me, not once.   He never stamped his feet at me.  He knew there was no need.  While I didn’t want him to dine in the compost bin he knew I would never hurt him.  He died a violent death but worse than that Brandon had died alone.  And that was the saddest bit of all.

The wind was cold and biting, unusual for my Arizona home.  Rain seemed imminent and grey clouds urged me indoors but I had a job to do.  I picked Brandon up with the shovel and carried his body to the back of the property.   Setting him down gently, I dug a grave.   I placed Brandon in the grave, using the shovel to arrange him in a way that I hoped would be comfortable.  Quietly I covered him with dirt and patted it down firmly.   I decided against a marker but a gust of wind swept up some leaves blanketing the grave with autumn gold.   Perfect.   I stood for several minutes, not thinking, not praying, no tears.   I simply stood there looking at the tiny golden grave.  It was enough.   I walked away.

4 Comments

  1. Comment by Kaylan

    Posted on July 10, 2011 at 11:23 pm

    Arictles like this really grease the shafts of knowledge.

  2. Comment by Kaylan

    Posted on July 10, 2011 at 11:23 pm

    Arictles like this really grease the shafts of knowledge.

  3. Comment by owner

    Posted on July 14, 2011 at 7:25 pm

    Thank you Kaylen

  4. Comment by owner

    Posted on July 14, 2011 at 7:25 pm

    Thank you Kaylen

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