Friday, June 21, 2013

Bye-Bye Daddy

Although much of the crowd are from the Unitarian church I once went to, the dream itself is set in what was my family church.  Not only that, but the pre-remodeled church.  I'm with a group of singers, not the director.  We run through something mundane.  We are told to sit in the congregation, not the choir loft.  I ask if there's a program with the hymn numbers.  The guy in charge replies that there will be no music except for the song we'll be singing.  It dawns on me that this is a Christmas Eve service and that people sitting randomly in will stand up and sing something that has nothing to do with the a Presbyterian church.  Someone asks if we will at least process into the sanctuary.  No, the minister is the only one to do that, but we are expected to stand and line the center aisle for him.  A not-delighted murmur rises among us.  The sanctuary is now full.  Someone tells us to rise; only a few do.  The person reminds them that the minister wants us to stand.  No one joins those already standing.  In fact, some of those standing sit with a disgusted sigh.  The minister enters.  He is the Reverend Mister Howard Dana, once of the Unitarian Church of Harrisburg.  This will be his final service.  Not many people are sad that he's leaving.  He enters and crosses the stage to the pulpit.  He's followed by two kids corked up in black face wearing stereotype wigs and Santa suits.  (I apologize for Dream Center's depiction of this, but it's also interesting that I associate this gross stereotype with the Reverend Mister Howard Dana.)  Seeing this, much of the congregation stands up and leaves, I among them.  The cemetery is filled with snow as I trudge my way home.

I've not been to my hometown in a long time.  I stand beside the turnpike.  In real life, the turnpike is nowhere near Gap.  However, in my dream, it's apparently always been there, but I understand that the traffic is snarled because of a bridge.  I wasn't aware there was a bridge.  Nor could I think why a bridge would be needed.  A tunnel maybe, but not a bridge.  Coming from one of the parked cars is a news report about a murder the previous night.  The newscaster ad libs that he knows who did it and gives the name, then goes back to reporting.  I go to a farmhouse.  The farmer is about to head out to the fields on his tractor.  He waves as the tractor chugs away.  His wife doesn't know me, but we're quite easily friendly with each other.  She tells me of things I might find interesting in the area, then notices that I'm kind of detached.  I ask her about a mall.  She hesitates but then tells me she knows about it.  She then tells me there was a murder there last night.  I tell her I'd heard about that and that I heard on the radio a man named so-and-so killed the man.  She blanches.  She hoped no one knew about that.  The two men had a bad history and the muderer was a minister she thought had left the previous winter.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013


Penny was a border collie.  She lived at a neighboring (although certainly not next-door-neighboring) farm.

We grew up in a menagerie.  Aside from the usual assortment of cats and dogs, we were also visited by an inordinate number of squirrels, skunks, rabbits and other mammals, not to mention the occasional wounded (or thrown-out-by-its-mother) bird.  Mother was convinced there were signs posted in the nearby woods, written in basic animalese, that informed animals that the Walkers were an easy touch.  And we were.

I don't know how Penny came to know us...perhaps she saw the sign and decided to try us out.  We lived on one side of a valley and Penny's farm was a mile or so to our north, with another farmer's field in between.  She herded her cows across the highway from their meadow to the barn and back again.  Sometimes in the evening, with the cows safely in the meadow, she'd come over to spend the night.

She announced her arrival with a woof and a scratch on the screen door...unless, of course, one of us saw her as she crossed the valley toward our place, in which case she'd be greeted by my sister and me, the welcoming committee.  Her domain, the pasture, was enclosed by an electric fence, I think.  Whatever it was, she got under it and crossed that valley.

As I say, I haven't a clue how this visitation started, but I was ecstatic when she came.  A border collie was my idea of a big dog, certainly larger than either of ours.  All three dogs got along well; ours seemed as happy as we kids were when Penny came to visit.  My parents got up early in the morning in time to let Penny out of the house so she could steer her cows to the barn for the morning milking.

Her visits seemed random, although my father later said he thought she came when a storm threatened.  I don't remember that.  I've always been fairly good at making associations, and I don't associate Penny's visits with storms.  Plus she'd visit any time of year.  The farmer for whom she herded cows knew that if Penny weren't at the farm at night, she was with us and she'd be back in time to herd the cows.  He'd tell us Penny stories when he bought feed at the mill.  I think he was concerned that Penny might be making a pest of herself.  We assured him nothing could be farther from the truth.

She seemed to enjoy us kids.  Lord knows we enjoyed her company.  The farmer had children, too, so it wasn't just to get her kid quotient that she came to see us.  She played the usual dog games...catch, chase the kid, that sort of thing.  Maybe she knew she'd get a good brushing when she spent the night; she was a farm dog, but I think she liked to get spruced up from time to time.

Who knows if an animal is aware it's going to die.  Penny died at our house, though.  She was old, she was arthritic, and until the night she died, she was happy to visit.  The farmer apologized profusely when he came to pick her up.  I, on the other hand, remain convinced that she chose to die at our place.