The guinea pig died today.
OK, I rather liked the little furball, but them dying after a few years is in the specs. Can't say I'm devastated, although he was the only one in the household who was consistently happy to see me. (He'd always go "squeak, squeak", which is Guinea Pig for "got any fresh grass for me?")
The kids are a bit more perturbed, although I consider these smaller sorrows to be vital preparation for the bigger sorrows that will come their way one day. If they've learned to handle the passing of a loved guinea pig at 7, they're probably better equipped to handle the loss of e.g. their grandparents, which might happen decades hence but will certainly happen one day.
There's one problem, though. The kids will want him to get something resembling a proper funeral, even if it only means he gets stuffed in a hole in the lawn. (I'm talking about the guinea pig here, not a grandparent.)
It's been below freezing for several weeks. Or put another way, for the parts of the readershp who happen to live in Florida or thereabouts: the ground is frozen solid. Trying to dig even a guinea-pig-sized hole is like trying to dig in the bedrock. This is a situation that will last until mid-March, minimum. It might be mid-April.
For humans, they have huge hot air fans thawing the ground. While I do own one fit to heat a wardrobe, and 50 yards of outdoor-proof extension cord, I somehow believe it will turn out to be unpractical. Worst-case scenario, it'll only be seen as an extra bonus by the deer who have taken up residence under the apple tree.
In the old days, before heating fans, the practical Swedish country people would put the dear departed in the wood shed over the winter. Further up north, it could easily be six months before a funeral could be arranged. This was OK, though, for people who still saw death as something natural. If they were to eat pork, for instance, they realised that this did at some stage involve a dead pig. Uncle Eddie frozen solid in the woodshed didn't faze them.
Our wood shed is second home to a cat. Cats eat small furry animals. We're resigned to keep the guinea pig in the garage for the duration of the winter. It's unheated, so he'll last.
Still one problem, though. He'll thaw several weeks before the ground does. We can probably keep insects away, but the smell might still disrupt what ought to be a solemn moment for the kids, in case they still remember him by then. And I'm not keeping him in the freezer, thankyouverymany.
Would any of my esteemed readers have a suggestion for me? You have until mid-March, minimum, to think...