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Cowboy Poetry and the Afterlife

We haven't owned a television for just over thirteen years, so it's fairly easy to guess that I'm an avid NPR listener. Thankfully, we have two stations in our area - WUOM for talking my ear off and WEMU for some of the best music around - to satisfy whatever my need is for audio input at that moment.

My morning coffee is often shared with one of those local stations, two cats, and a woodstove. This Saturday was no different, and we joined Bob Edwards as he was interviewing Wally McRae, cowboy poet. Long-time fans of Baxter Black our ears were ready for words on the range, and McRae did not disapoint. Funny, thought-provoking, and powerful all other noise stopped as we listened to him recite Things of Intrinsic Worth and Reincarnation, my personal favorite of the morning.

Reincarnation with a touch of humour for the first time made me feel, for lack of a nicer way of puting it, better about death. It made me think of Beau Jacque, one of our first chickens to die. We buried her in the garden with a little ceremony and some words of thanks. Then we planted tomatoes there and a sage bush. She's still part of the action. Similarily, our compost bucket and bin make me feel a wee bit better about fruits or veggies that get lost in the back of the fridge or bottom of the bowl. Really, it's no loss. They come back in full force in the garden later as compost that fortifies the popcorn, the beans, or the kale. And that in turn fortifies us. It's like getting a rebate but without the hassle of sending in your proof of purchase.

For the first time, I know how I'd like to be put away at the end of my day. I'd like to be planted somewhere and have things growing above me. Not grass that gets mowed (boring and against what I believe in), but perhaps prairie plants or an oak tree that offer food and shelter to wild things large and small. Or a vegetabe patch, although that might gross out the living, but I can think of nothing that would be better. I'd still be helpful to others, maybe even friends and family. How nice is that to think about? That might just be heaven for me.

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