I discovered Ruthie’s body yesterday morning – what was left of it – near the birdfeeder in our little front yard. A pile of her soft white feathers lay among the wildflowers, along with enough other parts for me to know she was gone. She was one of a pair of wild guineas that had adopted us a couple of weeks ago, wandering over from our neighbor's property. The guineas annoyed them but we liked them.
Ants and flies had already begun their work. I had to be practical and not give in to the sadness I felt building inside. Her body had to be moved before the smell got strong. But where was the damn shovel I used for scooping up dead things the dogs drug back to their beds, like the half-baby deer (I think coyotes actually got it) and the dried up armadillo? I needed to move her delicate remains into the woods away from the house.
That’s when I started crying. Ruthie hadn't been just another poor, nameless wild animal - she had personality, and the sweetest little eyes surrounded by long eyelashes. I had loved how she tilted her head when she chirped at me, how she took off after Max, our German Shepherd one day, spreading her wings. All 114 pounds of him turned tail and ran. She had spunk, that was for sure.
Now Frankie, her black and white speckled cohort, was screeching at me. I felt so sorry for him. Max laid on his bed on the porch and our other dog, Charly, watched from a hole he dug in the woods. I had no proof, of course, but logic told me they were guilty of the crime, so I scolded them. Charly just ducked his head and wagged his tail to cheer me up. Max escaped to the doghouse.
Heading downstairs to look for the shovel, I called my husband, Tom. "Just put her in a plastic bag in the freezer and I'll bury her when I get home tonight." I was shocked - not about having a dead animal in the freezer but because he's not sentimental like I am. I guess he knew how upset I was, and he is sweet like that. (To some readers putting a dead animal in the freezer probably sounds creepy, and I guess it is, but we also kept a dead baby gerbil in the freezer for several years in a checkbox until we finally remembered to bury it. Also, our neighbor put my son’s pet salamander, Spanky, in the freezer when it died under his watch while we were on vacation. And... one friend put her dead cat in the freezer until her husband came home from a business trip to bury it. And... our neighbor informed me today she has a dead coral snake in hers until she figures out how to preserve the skin. So we’re not alone, at least!)
Unfortunately, the day got away from us, and we never had a chance to bury Ruthie. We’ll try to do it this afternoon. But for now, I have a dead guinea in my freezer. And I’m giving Frankie bird seed way up on the road under the trees so he’s not tempted to come down near the birdfeeder.