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  • Writer's pictureThe Rough & Tumble


It is a curious thing, the death of a loved one. We all know that our time in this world is limited, and that eventually all of us will end up under some sheet, never to wake up. And yet it is always a surprise when it happens to someone we know. It is like walking up the stairs to your bedroom in the dark, and thinking there is one more stair than there is. Your foot falls down, through the air, and there is a sickly feeling of dark surprise as you try and readjust the way you thought of things.

-Lemony Snicket.

Butter, in Hood River, OR.

We've been California bound for much of the year. Even though it might have seemed we were headed elsewhere, we were pointing our wheels toward California, where Scott's parents have a farmhouse and a couple acres of oranges they lost to the drought. We've been looking forward to making this stop for a while. We have a new album coming out in February (have we told you about that yet?) and we are so excited to release it. But we needed a little time and space to do so. Luckily Scott's mom and dad have historically liked having us around and with all of this temperate California weather, it seemed like a good place for this teeny tiny camper dwelling duo to land for a little while.

It's the same way with a year as it is with a road trip, I guess; at some point it will end. There is a sort of inevitability to it's ending and a natural order that takes over even if you're doing everything in your will to stop it. Every story needs an ending. You can feel it in your hands and you know it's coming when there are fewer pages to turn. Sometimes it's not that it ends that is surprising, but the way in which it happens.

We felt that way with Butter growing older. I think we started feeling her age before we knew what to call it or how to accept it. She was eight, by our best guess, and for a bullmastiff, that's geriatric. In a lot of ways she still acted like a young dog; even on her last day she chased a small dog around the dog park. But she was getting old, graying and getting a little slower. Her trip was ending and we could see that. But we didn't know she would go so soon, on an overcast day in Portland, Oregon, because she got a piece of bone stuck in her esophagus. We were in shock, and still are.

As we were headed toward California we were looking forward to two things; sunshine and citrus season. We were looking forward to the sunshine mostly for Butter, actually. She loved to lay out in the sun, off leash, in a patch of dirt. We were looking forward to giving her that time and space. But she went too soon. Now we're left with citrus season, broken hearts and a box of clementines.

We picked the song "Clementine" to cover this week on Double Americana. It's a California mining song, about the sudden death of a young girl. It's an apt comparison to our darling Butter; this kind of quirky girl who lived with her dad and every morning she'd chase the ducks out into the pond at nine o'clock. And one day she's doing exactly that, just the way she always does, but she trips and falls into the pond and she drowns and is gone forever. One minute she was here and now she's not and never will be again. It's the "never will be again" that is hard to accept.

Thank you for joining us as we mourn the loss of our good pal, Butter, a sturdy road dog with a kind heart and more feelings than her brown eyes could hold. Your messages, letters and texts have been so encouraging to us these past few weeks and have helped us grieve.

Much love to you from the three of us.

Clementine Lyrics Sheet

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