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In just the last hour or so, I’ve learned quite a lot, which is surprising, considering that I wasn’t trying to learn anything, and the activity I was involved in is not typically considered educational. The things I noticed, though, have been bouncing around in my head, so I thought it important to get them all down on paper (so to speak) before I forgot. So, if you can pardon the personal nature of this, here is my list:

  1. Winter time is not the best time for a pet to die. If you own a pet, you should try to plan their demise so as to avoid the winter months.
  2. Frozen ground is about as easy to dig up as your living room floor (though I don’t recommend trying it to find out).
  3. Shallow graves are not always easy to dig. Sometimes they are just a necessity.
  4. The first 3 inches or so of digging are the worst. That’s where the ground is frozen the hardest. After that it’s just hard-packed clay, pretty typical.
  5. If you don’t have an excavator or other such power tools in your shed, just give up and wait until spring. As far as I understand it, that’s why freezers were invented. Even a pick ax wouldn’t have helped much. But you definitely shouldn’t attempt this with a little three-foot garden shovel. Ever.
  6. If you’re trying to pick a nice, peaceful resting ground for your child’s recently departed and are thinking that a nice shady spot under a tree would be nice, you are thinking like a parent instead of an undertaker. Stop it. Roots grow under trees. Lots of them. Lots of really thick ones. The kind most people buy chainsaws for.
  7. I have a better understanding of the pain that the pioneers must have experienced trying to bury their loved ones in the frozen plains. I was hurting after about 5 minutes, and only had managed to clear the leaves away from the spot and chisel a few shavings of dirt off the surface. There was an extra helping of pain knowing that there was no way to get out of this by whining to my wife about how hard it was or how tired I was. It just had to be done. And they had many more, significantly more profound feelings about the people they were burying than I did about my son’s hamster. It must have been torture. I will definitely look at the pioneer graveyard in Winter Quarters a whole lot differently the next time I am there.
  8. Little boys are not that into eulogizing the deceased, even though it broke his heart to learn that it was his hamster that had died.
  9. Finally, little boys love to dig holes.

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