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Sweet Cheeks and Petunias

    Our latest edition, that came to be with us for a very short time, was a tiny bunny who lost his mother.  He was very weak upon arrival to our house and we placed him in a warm and cozy hamster cage.  He wasn't any bigger than a mouse.  My daughter, who keeps a supply of excellent pet names ready for use, promptly, without any second thought, named him Sweet Cheeks.  I prepared her for the possibility that Sweet Cheeks may not make it, but we gave it our best shot.   We lined his cage with grass, gave him goat milk from a bottle (because I'm the only one in the neighborhood who has a goat milk dealer on speed dial) and made him comfy.   As nighttime fell, Sweet Cheeks left this world.  A small funeral is planned for today. This won't be our first and won't be our last of backyard services.  I  should probably start making where all of these past critters have been buried before we dig in the wrong spot one day.   Somewhere out there are a series of cats, dogs, hamsters, goldfish from the fair, squirrels and two pet birds.

    As my daughter cried for a pet she had no more than an afternoon attachment to, I encouraged her to find something else to do.  Unbeknownst to me, my child was a virtual gardener and was planting, caring for and picking the most beautiful flowers I had ever seen.  I watched as she clicked a button and rain fell across her iPad onto tiny seeds that soon sprouted into beautiful flowers.  They swayed as if some mythical iBreeze was flowing through the monitor.  You could hear the crickets singing as dusk fell on her little garden.  I'm certain there was now a tiny bunny living there amongst her flowers.  It was pleasing.  It was satisfying.  It was anything but real.

    If  I were the software designer, I would have incorporated the truths of having a garden into my computer coding.  I think, when you wake in the morning to go look at your tiny bluebells opening to take in the morning dew, you should find a large dog lying in your flower bed gnawing the head off of a Halloween scarecrow that he must have stolen out of someone's garage.   There would be tiny plantings pulled up by the root, hanging from the dog's mouth and dirt all over his head.  That basket of petunias, that you had just planted and cared for, would simply be gone without explanation.  There would be no signs of the flowers or the basket.  Knowing full well that it defied physical law for the dog to ingest the entire basket of flowers, you had to wonder exactly where it had gone and how.  That one Gerber daisy that your child loved would be broken off at the stem where the crazed dog had trampled it.  There would be no cool breeze blowing in across the garden, but a stifling summer heat and stillness that would wilt the strongest of flowers.  When it came time to water your beauties, you would find that the garden hose was missing from the spigot because your husband had gathered all of the hoses and hooked them together into a 300 foot long connection to water his own garden that was being eaten by woodland critters quicker than he could harvest.   If you could find a bucket to retrieve some water for your garden, there would be a fresh litter of kittens living in it.  The flowers would never stand a chance.

Luckily, we do not live in a virtual world.  My garden may be dried up and beaten down, but a lot of happy animals have traveled through it. All things injured or abandoned pass right by the landscaped homes down the street and make their way to my back door.  My children know how to provide first aid and love without question.  They know how fragile life can be for plants, animals and our hearts.   This is the real world.


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