Thursday, February 28, 2019


The last day of February. I cannot say that this has been an unexciting month, even though the excitement has sometimes been of the panic-and-worry type. Worry about the weather. Worry about the animals. Worry that spring is still too far away.

Looking back, I must complain that once more, we missed a chance at a picture perfect winter. The snow came, but I can think of only one day when it was perfect: good snow for play, plenty of sunshine to lure you outside. The ice storms and the cold were intimidating and now that we're nearing the season's end, I will admit to looking forward to the day when it all melts.

(The snowman survived it all, though most of his olive mouth was eaten by deer and his carrot nose has fallen to the ground. No one bothers to stick it back inside. He's so icy-brittle that you'd have to really work hard to get it in there.)

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I go out early to feed the animals and am again disappointed to see no one in the garage. I feed the cheepers, leave some dry food out in case the cats come back and head back to the farmhouse. On the super-upside, for once I don't have to chip away at any ice on the path leading to the farmhouse door. No new snow, no new ice. How lovely!

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Ed and I talk about the cats. Why am I so in love with them? Generally, I'm not drawn to cats. They always seem so unaffectionate. I understand that this is their unique trait: they are independent. I get that people love them unconditionally. But if you asked me to again consider bringing a cat into the house, I would say -- no way, not a chance.

And yet, this little cat family is special. Stop Sign has a history with us and when she had her little ones, we were very happy. To get them safely to adulthood seemed like a fair goal.

And so when I step outside in the morning and am greeted by silence, I'm disappointed.

Ed grins -- you sure are attached to them.
You want to have them in the house, don't you?
I did not say that. I know you hate all those cat hairs.
I'm sure they would be at loose ends inside anyway!
Probably true...

It's not clear that you could domesticate these guys: they are one foot into our lives, but honestly, if they disappeared one day and we never saw them again, I would not be totally surprised. (I would be crushed, but not surprised.)

I look out at our rural road. It's not exactly busy, but cars do zip by every couple of minutes. Such a danger to these cats, who never look left or right before crossing!

I just want them to be safe.
You want them to be here, in the garage.

He is right.

Minutes later, I see the two little guys! Here's Dance, sauntering in. And Jacket is with her.

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And they are ravenously hungry, especially Jacket who probably has not eaten for two days. Still, Dance, the smaller one, is the lead girl. Jacket has learned that Dance gets first dibs. If he wants to eat, he has to work the Step-and-Dine (which she avoids). And he does. And they eat every last bit of food.

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Breakfast for us too. Finally.

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Happiness is seeing the two little guys together again. (But where is Stop Sign?? Always the worry...)

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In the early afternoon, the picture, from my perspective, becomes complete. I look out the kitchen window and boom! There they all are, playing.

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I make the hundredth trip outside, this time to greet Stop Sign and to load up the dish with food for her.  I'm happy to see her filling out now - she was such a scrawny girl! Too, the little guys are growing! Dance, the smallest, looks older than her sweet two months.

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And so you could say that the month ends on a high note. Even Whiskers makes an afternoon appearance. The animals that have made us (well, me) panic and wring our hands all month are fed and at peace. We've gotten better at meeting their needs, but of course, we are only one small piece of their complicated existence. For now, I'm relieved that tomorrow starts a new month -- one that will surely give us better weather and also give these farmette cats (dare I call them that?) another boost into a stronger life.

In the afternoon, I pick up Snowdrop.

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She is, unfortunately, not here for long. We barely have time to finish a book, to start a new game....

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 ... and then I have to hand her over to her dad.

I have a bus to catch. You know my route! Car to bus, then the L train, then a walk through familiar blocks ...


... to Primrose's home. Time to check in with the 11 month old girl! And of course, with her parents.

(I leave plenty of instructions on cat care with Ed. As if I knew even a fraction of what he knows about looking after cats! And now I turn away from February, from cats and cheepers and icy paths that lead to creaky barns, and give my full attention to the young family living in Chicago, where, by the way, I see not a speck of snow or ice.)