June 27, the day of my 29th birthday, was the last day of Lotus’ life.
I got the call from Kelly around 6 pm, and from the tone of her voice, I knew what had happened before she had to say it. But she said it. She had been leaving with the farm truck, and Lotus had taken off after her in the ditch, as was his unfortunate custom. This time, however, he ran out in front of the truck, and was hit. It was a clean death, and he was buried on the land.
There is no fortunate timing for the loss of a loved one. Lotus had just been starting to find his place around the farm. Earlier that morning, as I ran mulch loads with the Gator, I had noticed how he ran along beside me: confident and relaxed; neither barking nor biting at the tire. As I walked, he trekked beside me; sniffing the scene, and begging for no attention, but finding his satisfaction from the detail in his surroundings. He was an impressive specimen; a creature in his element.
The loss hit Monica hard. She and Lotus had developed a special relationship. She teared up Friday morning as we gathered in the pack shed to talk through harvest details. We didn’t directly approach the topic of his death as a group, but I wish we would have. His absence was as tangible among us as his presence had been. I thought back to Monday evening; sitting in the pack shed and talking through the weekly plan. Monica had sat cross-legged on the floor, scratching Lotus’ ears and belly lovingly. He happy-dogged on the dusty concrete: eyes glazed over, and tongue lolling lazily. It was a good day to be a dog.
Logan had been his primary companion and caretaker, and we talked through the loss on our way to market on Saturday morning. We can never understand the timing of loss, and our powerlessness over the cycles and life and death. The world would go on, but the landscape would change in Lotus’ absence. His presence among the wild world had been evident and powerful, keeping our pest and creature pressure to a minimum.
On Friday evening, Kelly and I weeded greens in Field 0 at the top of the hill, taking in the beautiful view on a beautiful evening. She talked through her feelings of guilt, and the day that she and Lotus had had. They’d shared “a moment which lasted all day,” as he roamed contentedly with her for much of the afternoon. The death had not been her fault. His fate was as imminent as his inability or unwillingness to stay off of the road. He was a wild one, and she only happened to be the unfortunate soul behind the wheel when he made his last move.
Lotus was a crazy bastard. We spent many hours in board and planning meetings discussing how to handle him, and he spent infinitely more in direct defiance of our will. Endlessly enthusiastic, with a brash unwillingness to adhere to expectation or direction, and energy greater than the world could handle, he was the perfect dog for Rising Sand Organics. He lived a good life with us on that land. He was a good boy, and he will be dearly missed. I hope he enjoyed his time with us. I really believe he did.