May 13, 2008

Like water for rice pudding

I awoke to rain. There wasn't enough, it turned out, to quench the brushfire 
hazard, which has now entered the dreaded red zone. It was enough to delight 
the birds. Even the big ugly warty-faced muscovy ducks were flapping triumphantly 
over wafer-thin puddles.

A man in Fort Myers was charged yesterday with killing his old dog with a blow to 
the head, and burying it in a grave on his property. I suppose he should have 
turned it over to some shelter where it would have sat in a cell while waiting to be 
killed by strangers. Norman Mailer wrote that a man has a responsibility, when the 
time comes, to kill his own dog. It's a burden of love. My friend Walter used to say 
that we're no longer allowed to be poor, even if we want to be. I wonder if we're 
no longer allowed, in some fundamental ways, to be responsible.

We confuse love and sentimentality. Jesus, love incarnate, seems to me often 
edgily unsentimental. I suspect that a lot of folks who prattle on about their love 
of the Lord, wouldn't have liked him very much. Remember that catch phrase that 
was going around a few years ago... "I love you, even if I don't like you." What a 
pious saw that is. I think only a mother, or a savior, can say it authentically. Most 
of the time, I'd rather be liked. Tastes more like love. And isn't nearly the wildfire 

There are watering restrictions in effect, limiting sprinkling to certain days and 
hours. Not that it matters; our sprinkler system is broken. I almost singlehandedly 
persuaded the board, in the interest of water conservation, to not have it 
repaired, and let nature take its course. Sometimes going brown is a way to be 
'green.' We're allowed to hand-water though, any time, for ten minutes. This is a 
set-aside in the restrictions that I sometimes indulge, late in the day. There is 
something relaxing about just standing there, waving a gurgling hose over 
parched and grateful grass. My neighbor Sara, an avid gardener, will join me in 
conversation, telling me about her newly planted mango sapling, while watching 
the rivulets at our feet slither minutely away. She'll bring me something from her 
kitchen. She turned up a couple days ago with a scoop of rice pudding in a teacup. 
She likes me.