Monday, May 31, 2010

Death. Definitely not becoming her.

When I bought the country house I promised myself that I would not become the squealing-city-girl-in-the-country cliche. Yet there I find myself unable to squash a slug, there I find myself destroying my own toilet due to maladministration of a hammer and now I find myself caught up in an unseemly incident with dead rabbits.

The first rabbit startled me while I was traipsing around pulling out weeds in a front garden bed. There it lay, soft and whole under a swathe of long grass, a glazed eye to the clouds. I calculated its length relative to my spade (long enough to reach mid-thigh if it was on its haunches pawing at me for mercy) and made my decision: I would go next door and delegate the problem to my neighbours. This strategy has worked well previously in the removal of bats and Huntsman spiders.

Soon my problem was in the capable hands of Sue, a nurse. She whisked out a rubbish bag, commandeered the spade and set about shoveling the rabbit into the bag while I cringed Carrie Bradshaw-like on the sidelines. Then I noticed her sheep-crossed-with-another-dog Molly in a nearby garden bed enthusiastically chewing. 'Molly looks like she's eating a steak,' I said staying firmly in my place. 

In my cloistered city life most of the fears and discomforts that I face are non-tangible, such as possible rejection or disapproval. My fear and discomfort in the country relates to the physical: dying bats, slimy slug entrails, decomposing rabbits. One of the reasons that I bought the country house was an urge to be more connected to the natural world. I make my living as a business consultant and I spend a lot of time in my mind toying with words and ideas. I like it there but I felt an urge to reconnect with the natural world, to balance constant mental action with meaningful physical action, to get my hands in dirt.

I will spare you the details of what happened next except to say that it involved a tug of war between Sue and Molly and the carcass of another rabbit, accompanied by the sounds of tearing rabbit cartilidge, the rustling of the rubbish bag and my screams.

Musing on my behaviour later, I asked myself, 'What is it that I'm actually afraid of'? The sight of an entrail? The smell of blood on my gardening glove? The feeling of a few kilos of inert flesh?  And I realised that I may have gone outside into nature but I'm still hanging out with the fear in my mind.

Sue left with my profuse thanks but without the bag of carcasses and it felt wrong to put them in the rubbish. I stared at the bag and decided to delegate the task of burying it to my father, who would be visiting in a week.  By the time he arrived the bag contained only bloodstains. Another animal had done my dirty work.

I do want to change and I'm going to make an effort. I don't want to be a cliche. And if I can be the woman who can overcome her imaginary fears and bury a rabbit in the country, who knows what I'll be able to do in the city?

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