There was a woman who lived across the street from me when I first moved out here to the country. Lois was 25 years older than I, but we became great friends. She was a widow, witty & smart, well-read & wise. She was in good health, active. She built her house a few months after I did. It was great to have a friend who was right across the way and didn’t mind if you just ambled over to chat, who had time for a walk any ol’ day.
When she moved here, she went to the Humane Society and said, “Which dog has been here the longest?” They showed her the dog, and she said, “I’ll take it.” That was the kind of person she was.
It was a small English sheepdog, all curly and mop-like. She named her Daisy. Daisy was loyal and quiet. At first. When they moved from the trailer into the newly built house, Daisy became very territorial. She had a hideous, ear-shattering, staccato bark, which she let loose with viciousness whenever anybody came to Lois’s house or drove past it on the drive, racing up and down the fence line like a hell dog.
No matter how many years she knew me, she would greet me like I was a bill-collector. She actually nipped at me once or twice. I didn’t feel singled out, since she behaved this way with everyone, but this did not endear her to me. I would have thought she might’ve cut me some slack, given the possibly hundreds of times I had been in her house and yard. It’s not like I was some stranger. That piercing bark would rend the rural peace all the way inside my house 300 feet away, despite my house being built of strawbale with 2 foot thick walls.
Lois was chagrined at what she had taken on, saying that while they lived in the trailer on site while the house was under construction she never heard a sound out of her — didn’t even know what her bark sounded like. Daisy was a quiet dog otherwise, so Lois just kept her anyway. That was the kind of person she was.
Oh, how I used to curse that dog in my head! I wished it would run away forever. Get dognapped. I wished it to eat something and choke. I wished it would get run over. Lose a fight with a pack of coyotes. Be eaten by bears. I harbored much ill will towards Daisy, I cannot deny it.
A Roiling Plague
One year, we had a horrible tent caterpillar infestation in this county. They moved into every fruit tree and every alder, draping the branches with their cobwebby tents. Then the millions of caterpillars burst forth and devoured every leaf. They denuded the branches and dropped to the ground, and began to crawl over everything. The walls of our houses were dripping with them. There were so many roiling on the fence posts that they looked like they were topped with seething tarantulas.
Throughout this plague, Lois and I both were firm in our commitment to using only organic means to fight the infestation. We tried spraying with cayenne and tea tree oil and I can’t remember what all. Whether it made a dent in the inexorable scourge, I do not know. (In case you don’t know, neither chickens nor ducks will eat tent caterpillars. Only peafowl will, and I have never kept any.)
Cosmic Fate or Random Chance?
One morning, Lois called to say she couldn’t stand it anymore. She was going to go to a nursery in the next town, because they still had some chemical caterpillar killer. Did I want to come? I had a friend coming over, so I couldn’t.
Some hours later, another neighbor came by and said, “Did you hear? Lois was killed in a road accident.”
I was stunned. Nobody knew who was at fault. She was a terrible driver. That she died in an accident was not a surprise to those who had ever ridden with Lois at the wheel. I blame the caterpillars myself, because if they hadn’t been so bad that year, she would not have reached the end of her tether and been at that intersection, at that moment.
But What If…
I thought about if I hadn’t had a guest coming over, if I had gone with her, maybe I would have seen the other car and prevented the accident.
Or maybe I’d be dead, too. Was it cosmic fate, or random chance?
Daisy survived the crash. She was taken in by some friends of Lois’s, so I never saw her again. I had wanted to be rid of her horrid racket and aggression. My fervent wish that she should be gone had come true. But at what price? I lost my friend. Moreover, the old man in the other vehicle also died. Cosmic fate, or random chance?
There is an expression “Shit happens”, that sometimes bad stuff just happens and it is in no one’s control, nobody’s fault, couldn’t have been avoided, beyond our ken.
Well, I say, “Shit ricochets.” Maybe the negative thoughts I aimed at that irritating mutt had some effect, but Lois got taken out as well. I don’t want anyone to think that I am (or ever was) actually guilt-ridden about this. However, since then I try to be mindful of mental sniping. I try to not think terminal thoughts about people, or animals which annoy me. Because you never know who might get taken out by the ricochet.
Do you think mindful thinking can affect fate or even chance?