An Unconditional Life for all Seasons: A Remembrance

Cooper Birthday 12; KMHuberImageAutumn is my favorite time of year, and when Thanksgiving is all but-on-the-doorstep of December, I begin my review of the year in preparation for a final toast on December 31.

This time in-between, for me, is one of reflection, a time of note writing or even a phone call just to say, “I am thinking of you.” Being thoughtful and having compassion for all sentient beings is peace on earth regardless of the season.

I remind myself of that every year but this year, the memory of Thanksgiving of 2012 with beagle Cooper James loomed large. Longtime readers of this blog may remember our adventures together.

Mine is a mostly vegetarian home for I am mostly Buddhist. Yet, in 2012, I could not let go of the thought—even through meditation—that I needed to purchase a fresh turkey for Thanksgiving.

As is often the way with these nagging thoughts, it was not about a mostly vegetarian/Buddhist human purchasing a turkey. It was about canine Cooper being on turkey watch, his personal aroma therapy.

It would take me two years to make the connection.

Cooper was curious about life, always willing to explore, yet he had a respect for boundaries, especially when it came to human food. He had learned treats come from behavior that humans like.

He was a master of canine kitchen behavior; always, he waited until I left the room. I was grateful for the way Cooper kept the floor clean–I hated sweeping and mopping floors more than any other chores–Cooper seemed born to both.

Thus, Cooper on turkey watch was at a respectable distance from the oven door but in full view of every possible Cooper James; KMHuberImageangle of the kitchen. He quickly mastered the timing of turkey basting. His low, beagle keen was within minutes of the timer’s announcement.

From afar, he watched in complete contentment as I basted the turkey. It was as if he loved the aroma of anticipation as much as the turkey he knew would come his way. Cooper was in the moment, and it was one of his best.

Food was Cooper’s first love. I never minded playing second fiddle. He was not greedy in the way he ate or how much he consumed. For a beagle, he was remarkably patient.

He simply got through moments as they were presented to him, no matter how familiar or beloved the scent. He met each one as if it were for the first time. He lived with an enthusiasm I have not met again.

KMHuberimage; larch in autumnThe aroma of life is heady in itself for life is a banquet, and we need not starve ourselves with conditions or certain ways to partake of it. It need not always be set up like a Thanksgiving dinner eaten off plates used once a year.

The zest of life is in each new moment we have, whether it is the aroma or the actual bite of turkey, there need not be conditions or expectations.  We need merely experience the joy of the moment.

Cooper had an unconditional love for living life unconditionally. I do my best to remember this on all the days of these years I live without him.

His last Thanksgiving was that November 22, 2012, the year that some believed the world would never begin as all others had. As an ever-present, sentient being, one day or forever were the same to Cooper. His presence on this planet ended on the last day of 2012.

I do think of Cooper on New Year’s Eve but it is on Thanksgiving that the heady scent of Cooper’s memory wafts through my mind. And yes, there is the aroma of roasting turkey.


A Kindness Note for All Seasons: The awesome August McLaughlin is hosting the first #SparkleFriday kindness event on November 28, Black Friday. Check out her blog post or RSVP the Facebook event page.


16 thoughts on “An Unconditional Life for all Seasons: A Remembrance

  1. I have a vivid memory of looking out when Craig and I were singing at the Monarch Festival and seeing you and Cooper James in the shade of a tree–and then the same image a year later and you were alone. The absence of Cooper was palpable. I know that Ray and I trail Moo’s absence. Dogs give us such gifts and lessons simply by being what they are.


    1. Every year, I look to that tree and remember us there as well. He had a great time that day but then, Cooper always had a good time. No doubt, because as you say, dogs are what they are, always. Thanks, Adrian.


  2. What a wonderful tribute to your beloved, Cooper. And a handsome boy he was. I’m sure he is watching over you and will be right at your side, as always. There is nothing like understanding the world and life from the perspective of our pets. They only know that moment—if we could be so fortunate. I’m glad you hold these special memories of your boy. This post made me smile and it was really nice to see his face again. Best to you, my friend.


    1. Yes, Stephanie, if only we could be that fortunate. My memories of Cooper are always so full of joy. And as you say, the essence of him is always with me. I am grateful for that as well. These two pictures of him always bring a smile to my face as well. Thanks, my friend.


  3. we have much to learn from dogs. and what a fine image you painted, of your dog contemplating the basting turkey in home normally devoid of meat. dogs may not be vegetarians, but they do seem to have a little of the buddha in them. make that a lot.


    1. Indeed, dogs are quite buddha-like. I agree. In succession, I had two elderly beagles. What teachers they were. Through them, I learned Zen–each showed me different paths–with Cooper it was always to meet life head on, regardless. Clearly, I am still working on that. Thanks, Craig.


  4. Beautiful, Karen! What a treasure Cooper was and remains. Thanksgiving draws up thoughts of Zoe, too, and I feel her closer than ever. We were blessed with a healthy holiday season last year, after her cancer treatment started working — to most everyone’s shock. I’ll never forget how thrilled and puppy-like she seemed our last shared Thanksgiving. Now I can’t help but imagine Cooper and Zoe feasting together in the clouds. ❤

    Thanks for spreading the word about #SparkleFriday!


    1. That Thanksgiving was definitely one of Cooper’s best days. He was just so happy that day, almost skipping around. Like you say, puppy-like. I hadn’t thought of that till you mentioned it. If I had known what joy a roasting turkey would bring him…well, you can imagine. And thanks for the image of Zoe and Cooper feasting together. I really like that. Am looking forward to #SparkleFriday. Thanks, August.

      Liked by 1 person

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