Digging a hole.

I am digging a hole on a hot day.
My old gardening companion isn’t helping me today. Usually her snuffly black nose and long, lean paws would be getting in the way of each shovel stroke, trying her best to help.
Although I am often just planting a tree, or fixing the sprinklers, she searches for the scent or sound, cached food or living prey for which I’m digging. Occasionally turning those brown eyes up to look for a clue in my face. Her own, much sharper senses finding nothing to encourage further digging, but trusting my judgement all the same. I hope she will trust my judgment today, in her absence.
It is nice here, high up on the rise. From here you can see over the whole property and watch the children play in the gardens below. We have had the occasional snake these last few years and the creek is always a temptation for a child’s curious mind, so it is important to be watchful.
The new spring leaves flicker in the soft breeze all the way down to the dam that winks back at me in the hot sunshine.
On a day like this it would be nice to put down my shovel, take off my shirt and dive in to the deep water, feeling the work dust wash away from my face and arms. Rising to the surface to find my doggy paddling companion rushing in after me, all scratchy nails and snorting breath. Dismayed at my foolishness for swimming out so far, yet refusing to go back to the muddy edge without me.
But there is no time for that today and besides, when I came up for air she wouldn’t be there. Not today.
At first my digging goes well, but soon I am down to the hard stoney earth that makes any excavation in Roleystone so difficult. Normally, on this land, the only way to get any depth in the ground is to drive out the tractor and the hard work is done for you. But the tractor is broken down. Besides, there are some holes you should dig on your own.
It takes over an hour to get down deep enough. Down where the hot sun doesn’t penetrate and the earth is cool and quiet.
I square off the corners and flatten out the bottom, then climb out and step back. It looks big enough. She was always skinny, almost like a greyhound, but the sickness has whittled her away to nothing. Just black fur stretched over long bones.
I carefully lower the blanket wrapped bundle down to the cool sandy base.
I can see her shape there, through the cloth. Her fine head is raised up.
Filling in the hole takes hardly any time at all and soon the gardens will take back their space and hide my mornings toil completely. It is the process of nature and beautiful, as it slowly and quietly attempts to remove all trace, but I know I can never walk by here without thinking of today and all the good days past.