Yes, I'm still here. We're all doing very fine, just a little busy is all. Soooo... Yeah! I'm still blogging, although primarily in my head these days. I mental-blog about all kinds of things -- well worth the price of a subscription -- and I take the most fantastic mental-pictures you've ever seen. But, today something happened that I simply must share, and the story ends with a wonderful moral.
Here in Denmark, there is something called hygge. Hygge does not have a direct translation, but the closest to it is "cozyness." Kind of. Anyhow, it is the OFFICIAL passion, mindset and mode of all Danes. It is because of hygge that we have lit candles in banks, shops, bus stations and even schools during the dark months, to bring that certain happy cozyness to our Danish lives. And at Christmas, there is an even more intense level of hygge, and it is called julehygge. This means "Christmas cozyness," and today we were invited to our friend Rikke's parents' house for some scrumptious julehygge -- specifically æbleskiver (homemade fried dough balls with jam and powdered sugar) and gløg (mulled wine with almonds and raisins). Also, Rikke's dad has grown a nice little patch of Christmas trees to which we could help ourselves to the best darn tree our grabby little hands could saw down. As this is William's first Christmas, the yuletide thrill has been ratcheted up a bit, so today was to be very exciting.
And it was! Rikke and her husband Gert, Jorunn and Jeppe, and Bo and Randi and all of our assorted tykes piled into our cars and caravanned to Rikke's folks' place. It looked like a snow sky (but without the snow) and we sang Christmas songs as we talked about where to put the tree in our new apartment. 'Twas cozyness defined. We even threw Bella in the back of our car so she could taste a bit of the excitement.
Our motorcade arrived in the late afternoon, and we all popped out into the crisp air. Christmas! Yay! Good cheer! Love! Cinnamon! Pine needles! Yippee! As we congregated in the driveway, Don whispered to me, "Don't look over there. Just don't."
"Just. Just don't. Okay?"
There was something under a big black garbage bag on the ground. I saw a hoof sticking out of one end, and when I got closed, I saw Bambi's nose. Aw. Rikke's dad must not be a fan of deer hopping around happily in fields. :( Oh well. Let's get a good tree!!!
Rikke, a huge dog lover, told Don it was okay to let Bella out of the back of the car.
"It's okay, Don -- she can't do anything. And she can't run away. It's all fenced in."
"Uh. Naw, it's okay. She likes sitting in the back of the car."
"Come on, let her out. It's okay!"
"Are you sure?"
"Yes! There's no problem! You can't let her stay back there!" Rikke was right -- Bella would be very uncozy all by herself.
While Don was having this conversation, William and I were over admiring the chickens in a nice big pen that Rikke's dad had made. Our tree party was making its way over to the thicket of hardy pines beyond the chickens, and Don came down the path with Bella.
The chickens started to FREAK OUT.
"Rikke, don't you think the birds will, uh, be uncomfortable with Bella around?"
Bella's jaws were a saliva waterfall as she squealed through the chicken wire.
"No, no -- they're fine! Bella's fine! Don't worry, Erin! You're too worried!"
Don, my sweet darling pot-stirrer, agreed.
"Yeah, she's fine!" Don was giggling. A bad sign.
"Don't let her spook them, Don. I'm serious. Look at her. She's going to put her paw through that wire..."
"Come on! Relax, Erin! Let's go get a tree!" Rikke called. "There's no problem!"
Bella was up on her hind legs, front paws rattling the chicken coop. The birds were twittering and clucking frantically. Why was her leash off?
A blur of orange fur and feathers was all I saw. How that dog moved that fast I cannot figure out but she managed to corner about three chickens and a pheasant (yes, he kept pheasants in there, too) and with me screeching "DONDONDONDONDONDONDONDONDONDON!!!!!" and trying to get the stupid gate shut (how Don and I wound up in the pen I don't recall) so all of the chickens and pheasants wouldn't run out into the Christmas trees... It was terrible. And at the end of those two seconds, Mrs. Pheasant's neck wound up snapped in the jaws of the horrible wolf-monster from America.
And so Mrs. Pheasant died.
Ugh. Oh my god. Um...
I turned around to see Bo and Jeppe laughing, Rikke telling me it was okay (her dog did the same thing not too long ago), Don trying to shake a dead pheasant from Bella's smiling locked jaws while trying not to laugh too hard, and Jorunn, completely horrified, who was holding a sobbing William (probably from me completely freaking out and shouting at Don).
Mortification was I.
You have to understand that, except for bacon, I've spent many adult years not eating meat all that often, if at all. (Bacon is not murder. Bacon is heaven.) I just can't stand thinking about killing animals. Sadly, I am that much of a softy. I couldn't even make it across a parking lot of a slaughterhouse. So to see my little doggie cracking the neck of this beautiful bird in one sweeping lunge... Blech. Not good.
And what to say to Rikke's dad? I mean, was this a prize-winning bird? Was this his pet? And what of Mr. Pheasant? Such a lonely Christmas for him! I was so rattled by it all that I just kept apologizing to him over and over in Danish and English. Rikke's brother-in-law laughed and said, "ah, well, yes, but sheet heppens." Rikke's dad just laughed and shrugged his shoulders. Another day, another dead bird. Saved him rounding her up himself.
Soon thereafter, I saw the old gal hanging from a hook in the carport, next to the gutted deer and another bird of some sort. I tried to not be bothered by it all, but it felt a little odd being invited to this nice cozy house by these incredibly warm and kind people to come take one of their trees and eat yummy snacks with them around their table while my monster dog attacked their livestock. As I sat at the table, Don looked at me and laughed a few times. I felt terrible, like I had BIRD MURDERER scrawled across my forehead in pheasant blood.
But, we got an awesome tree. As I'm typing this right now, Bella is asleep at the foot of it, spread over her giant dog bed, dreaming of catching more skittery clucky things as she dozes.
And the moral of the story is a dead bird in the carport is worth a gorgeous Christmas tree in the living room. Sad, but true.
(With regrets to Mrs. Pheasant, wherever you are, for stealing your hygge...)