Yesterday I saw a large dead rat on the side of the road as we walked to school. For a moment I was slightly pleased, wondering if that was the rat that ate and killed my tiny little cherry tree and my raspberry starts from last year. I steered my kids to the other side of the road, but when we walked back in the afternoon I forgot. In front of us were third and fourth grade boys, a pack of them walking home from school. They noticed the huge rat, splayed out face down. I prayed, quickly: Lord, let them leave it alone, please God please. But they didn’t. They picked up rocks and threw them at the rat as hard as they could, they kicked it, they squealed with delight every time they hit it. My daughter watched silently.
Today some kids threw cherry tomatoes in front of our house, not out of malice I’m sure, they just didn’t expect or like the tart taste so now they are a squashed confetti of bursts of tomato in front of our mailbox. I am surprised that my favorite bush in our yard is blooming, it’s fragrant white blossoms so fragile and gone in an instant. The tree in our next door neighbors yard also burst into pink flowers and is weeping them onto our charcoal grill. I am surprised by all of this because it is so rainy, it is so wet and miserable outside and yet spring is coming. I am surprised and I am annoyed. I have waited for these flowers and now I can hardly enjoy them, rushing back and forth with my hood up and umbrella out.
Today we walked the same way to school we always do, the rat still there. And I realized it wasn’t a dead rat after all, just a squirrel with a very bedraggled tail. I still take note of these things, of the creator God whose creations eat raspberry starts and throw stones at sad dead things. Surprise doesn’t always mean delight, but it still means we are paying attention.