My husband walked out of the back door, took a deep breath and sighed, "The smell of spring is in the air. I can't get enough of this." The weather had been rainy followed by several very warm, windy days. Today was a warm, windless day after a tough winter. There were a few spots of snow on the north side of the ditches and buildings but the rains earlier in the week took care of most of it. The landscape was not pretty. Everything was still dull tans and greys but the fresh air held promise.
The children's joy at going out to play was enhanced by the fact they could go outdoors without first donning several layers of clothing and those gosh-awful boots that took lots of tugging to get on and then filled with snow after walking over and sinking into a few drifts.
Sometimes the winter weather saw them playing in the barn out of the weather. They found a stray cat there and named it Mr Mooney. Midwinter that year Mr. Mooney gave birth in the hay mow. Though now a mother, the gender they had thrust upon it did not change. They continued to refer to it as a "he". Mr. Mooney's kittens were snug and warm hidden there among the bales of hay where they would not be bothered by the farm dogs. They were not so well hidden, however, that the kids couldn't find them.
There was a problem that winter day. One of the kittens was very scrawny and wouldn't nurse. The children held out hope and named it 2nd Thessalonians but it did not survive more than a couple of days. (Television sitcoms and the Bible were both used as their inspiration when naming pets.) They thought the kitten should be buried beneath the tree that Mr. Mooney used as his safe spot when the dogs were pestering him. They came into the house asking for a box and went back out with a shoebox to do what had to be done. I wondered how they thought they would be able to dig a hole by that tree because the ground had been frozen for a month but I asked no questions knowing they would figure out something when the digging wasn't possible.
Animals on the farm come and go rather regularly; here today and gone tomorrow is not unusual. The children learn very early that death is an inevitable part of life. The death of the kitten ceased to be a topic of conversation after I saw them take the shoebox-casket out to the barn. It was the last I heard about the deceased kitty for a while.
All of that had been forgotten by the dawn of this lovely day. The kids were having a great time riding bikes and chasing around the yard with the dogs. My morning chores finished, I carried our 4 month old baby out with me intending to sit on the porch and enjoy some sunshine and fresh air. My husband had gone out the back door when he exclaimed over the smell of spring in the air. I went out the front door and nearly gagged on the smell of the air.
A farmer's wife recognizes the odor emulating from a decaying animal. One of the boys volunteered to crawl under the porch to find the dead skunk or whatever was under there. He came out carrying a familiar but forgotten shoebox. Once again 2nd Thessalonians became the topic of conversation. You have to give the children credit. They had found a good storage spot. Their little cardboard casket holding 2nd Thessalonians didn't get covered by snow nor discovered by the dogs. Dad would be called upon to help them bury the kitten in the spot originally chosen, beneath Mr. Mooney's favorite tree.