PeonyI just came in from the garden, our tiny, heavily mortgaged patch of paradise on earth. As an inbred city girl, I’m increasingly fascinated by the mystery of life and death in our little backyard. Last month, I stumbled on a stiff mouse in the cut grass; last week, I uncovered a bird under the ferns, spread-eagled on a feathery funeral pyre, and this morning I found a batch of trampled flowers laced with matted tufts of animal fur. I trailed the stuff with a stick only to discover more and more of it, snaking its way through the aching poetry of the flower beds. Black crows circled overhead and WTF?!!

A belch shot up my throat and I swiftly recalled my resolve to look life (and death) squarely in the eye (If you can’t stand the heat), so like Diane Arbus at a freak show, I rooted through the garden for chunks of furry flesh, or crazed clouds of insects hovering ecstatically over glistening pounds of fresh, bloody kill.

At lunch (grilled tofu and salad), my husband solves the mystery by telling me he heard a cat-fight over a dead bird in the back last night when I was out, a vicious battle for feline supremacy under the apple tree. I’m strangely pissed to have missed it (where once I would have shielded my eyes), and realize with total serenity, that my bloodhound attraction makes me an animal, too.

(Final remains, under the ferns. R.I.P.)

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GOOD NEWS FLASH: Check out Rabbi Michael Lerner’s (Network of Spiritual Progressives) passionate article ‘My Talk with the Saudis and What I Learned from Them’ about his fascinating, and dare I say- hopeful experience at the 2008 World Conference on Dialogue.

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