April 17, 2009
Out here in the country, every few weeks around 3:00 in the morning, the coyotes come around and howl from the forest line, singing out their hunger. My dog, who might be part coyote, goes crazy, running in circles and barking at all the windows. For a while, I thought it was that he might be like Buck in the Call of the Wild, and maybe just wanted get in touch with his inner beast, maybe get himself some sexy coyote tail. But that’s just romanticizing things, I suppose. Really, he wants to drive them away, because their songs are a reminder that the world is vicious and mean and if you’re weak, you’re food, and then you’re shit, and then you’re nothing.
I should have listened to the songs. The ancient Greeks called the foretelling of events in the flights of birds orinthomancy, and I believe we can see important warning signs in the workings of nature. Like, the smoke from all those forest fires last summer in California that turned the sky green and the noonday sun blood red: those signs that made my coworkers make the sign of the cross and mutter about el apocolypto: those signs made me take a vacation to the green hills of Oregon that led to my eventual transplant here. I drove north and introduced myself to various tasting rooms. I met good people and was offered a job as the Production Manager at an historic vineyard and winery, whose wines are delicious, whose vines are ungrafted and tended to organically, with care and concern. They are good people and I moved here as soon as I could, arriving just ahead of the worst snowstorm in 40 years. They took me out to dinner on Christmas Eve, had me over for their annual New Year’s party.
I should have paid attention to the signs. The snow, the coyotes: I should have saved more. I would listen to NPR and hear news about unemployment figures, about the tanking of the economy and I would feel comfortable and smug, knowing that I had a good job, was paid well-enough. I got to work before anybody and stayed longer than everybody, usually, and I don’t know a lot about the world, but I always figured that you work hard and do good work, you’re safe, right? I threw myself into my work, ignored the signs, and calmed down my dog when the coyotes sang. I made plans to buy sheep, for crissakes.
This morning, lying down with a cup of hot coffee, getting ready for another day unemployed and frustrated, my dog, bored and wanting to go to the vineyard and kill gophers and deer, crawled up and went to sit on my chest and insist that we leave. Instead, the little fucker sat square down onto my mug of hot coffee and scalded his hairy dog asshole, jumping up, getting coffee everywhere, scared and upset and confused as to why I’d treat him so raw.
I knew exactly how he felt. That’s how it was to learn after a long week of working hard and well that the economy being what it is, which is crap, those projects for which I was brought on aren’t going to be done, and that I’d quit a good job and moved my ass to where I knew nobody for a job that was effectively over, thanks.
Life, I suppose, will turn around: there’s horsetail pushing up again in the ditches that had been sprayed with herbicides, and the cherry trees are in blossom. The vines will wake up again and need somebody like me: a guy who knows how to sing to and tickle a grapevine so that the grapes blush deep with promise and love.
My dog keeps licking his ass, whining, and I understand. In a way, by writing about my layoff, I guess I’m licking my wounds as well. I’m just scalded a little bit.