You get up
and discover it snowed, again, and it’s supposed to be spring.You check on your cats and find that one has
been sick, though no one admits to this mess.You try to feed the ducks with the cracked corn, but cannot.The path is filled with knee-deep snow, so
you throw their food from the kitchen window towards where they sit outside, and
a gust of snow-filled wind blows the corn back into the room.
The guy who
contracted to plow the driveway while your husband is away hasn’t shown and
you’re supposed to take your Mum to her doctor’s appointment for 9 am, so you
go outside to shovel.There is a ridge
as high as your wheel wells at the end of the driveway and the street plow
keeps filling in what you’ve shovelled.You shovel and shovel.You
re-enter the house to learn your mother’s appointment has been postponed until
tomorrow, because of the weather.
One of the
cats (which one remains a mystery) finds some of the cracked corn, eats it and
throws it up on the mat…right where you step when you come in the door.Another cat (who wishes to remain anonymous)
knocks a glass off the counter.It
splinters over the floor.
You tidy up
the bigger pieces and fetch the vacuum cleaner.For some reason, it doesn’t work.You fiddle with the duct tape covered wires until it starts.You vacuum a little.The floor needs a cleaning anyway.The vacuum dies.No amount of wiggling of wires will encourage
it to operate.You put the vacuum
cleaner away and fetch the broom and dustpan to finish.
the plow guy and discover he has forgotten the arrangement.You are not surprised.You remind him and he says he’ll be right
over after lunch.“No later than 1:30
pm,” he says.
At 4 pm, you
begin to think unkind thoughts about the plow guy.In the meantime, you’ve called the newspaper
a couple times to ask about where your paper is today.“It is late because of the storm, but it’ll
be there by 3,” the recording tells you.You
notice it is after 4.
it is, wrapped in a blue plastic bag sitting on top of the snow bank at the end
of the driveway. You pull on your tall
boots and wade out to retrieve it.You
are halfway there when the street plow thunders by, grabbing your paper and
depositing it three houses away, buried under hard-packed snow boulders.
around and slip in your own foot holes.Trying
to steady yourself, you flail like the ducks as they land and fall over into
the snow.You lie there; a turtle on its
back.You flop around and right
yourself, return to the house.The cats
greet you with chirps and meows, interested in the snow piles you are now
You are wet,
chilled and thinking unkind thoughts about the paper delivery person and the
street plow driver.The cats lick snow
from your pants and the floor.They
cough a bit, but refrain from throwing up.Perhaps it’s the look you give them.
it’s time for a hot chocolate with many tiny marshmallows.Many.You
need them.Your stepson calls and though
he works long hours, he offers to come by on his way home today and snow blow
your driveway.You feel grateful. Relieved. Saved. His kindness touches you.
You sit by
the fireplace and drink your hot chocolate. The cats gather round, kneading
spaces beside you on the couch, settling to sleep.You scoop the marshmallows from the bottom of
your cup with your finger and lick the sticky sweetness.
before 5 pm, the plow guy comes and makes a quick single cut down the middle of
your driveway.You are surprised.A bad day can become a good one, if you wait
your stepson and thank him, tell him the driveway is OK.You try not to think about the vacuum
cleaner; a problem for another day.And
you settle into the warm couch with the cats.
The snow has stopped and the sun shines through
the clouds.You smile as you notice...the clouds look just like marshmallows melting.
I love cats,
not just a single cat, buts cats.I can’t imagine my life without cats. But, not everyone understands this.
comes to our door, the cats all come running, tails straight up, offering
greetings, rubs and chirps and meows.The visitor looks and asks, “How many cats do you have?”They think, “Are you nuts?”I think, “Can’t you count?”
I defend my
choice to have cats because I love having cats.And it’s no one’s business but my own, the number of cats living here.We look after them, feed them nutritious
food and take them to the Vet for shots and check-ups.We brush them daily and trim their claws as
needed.We keep their water and their litter
clean.Yes, the cats create work, as
does any pet, but our cats are worth it.Our kitties are well looked after and in turn look after us.
When I am
ill (and I’ve had months of that), they comfort me—lie down beside me or on top
of me to rest and purr me well.
It is impossible to nap too much for them.They are solicitous when I am upset; enquiring in chirpy voices about
what is bothering me.When I am happy
and full of energy, they are willing to play until I am tired again.How can I not love my cats?
When I am
writing, they congregate in the room with me, on the bed, on the window ledge, on
a bookcase or at my feet.When I am stuck
with a piece, they respond with a chirp or a purr, a questioning look or an
encouraging gaze.They keep me company
and don’t disturb my work...well not too much.There are times when they want to sit on the writing desk and put their
paws out to capture my hand for a pat or a rub.There are times when they know I should take a break and they sit on my
paper or jump off the desk with my pen.
I asked a
cat-breeder and friend, “How do I know if I’ve turned into a crazy cat
lady?”She chuckled.“When there are more cats than people in the
household.”It’s too late.We crossed that line three years ago.
Gorey, a renowned artist and writer, loved cats too.He contended “between 4 or 5 didn’t seem to
make any difference,” though 6 were too many, “disproportionately more, than
five.” We are not at 6, nor even at 5.Like his cats, ours don’t go outdoors,
ever.But indoor cats don’t lose their
wildness, “they retain all their jungly qualities no matter what.”
what makes cats so fascinating?The
unpredictable balance between affection and wildness.I think it is.And cats so obviously see the world in a
healthy way.They know how to measure
the times for rest and play and serious work.Cats bring a fresh perspective to everything.
cats do we have?Well, we love the company of
cats. I believe there is always room for one more.
In March, winter and spring change places. Spring, the master composer, squeezes runs from the dying snow. The whole street stretches, shares a faint but urgent beat. Feeling the rhythm, the squills create blues for the golden horns of daffodils. And Spring trains the robins to warble the words, as she calls out the dance.
This poem is for The Sunday Whirl in which poets are challenged to write a poem using these words: march, change, master, die, street, train, faint, places, stretch, calls, create, words, share. If you'd like to see what other folks wrote, click here at The Sunday Whirl.
Where have our birds gone? We've suspected a predator must be near. The American Black Ducks and the Mallards, the Common Redpolls and the Black Cap Chickadees haven't been making their morning appearances to feed. Even the squirrels and the pheasants have been hiding or skittering quickly over the snow. Last weekend, a Sharp-Shinned Hawk sat on a maple in our yard for hours. And something happened...some of the ducks must have flown in close to see if there was cracked corn on the snow for them. Something happened because Gary says there's a female duck lying dead in the neighbour's yard, a mess of blood and feathers. And every day since the weekend, we've had a lone Mallard sitting in our yard. He comes early and stays all day. Unusual behaviour. He eats a bit, but mostly he sits and sits, and searches the sky. Is he waiting for her to return?
My cats are
smarter than I am.They pay attention to
what they need.They don’t do things
because they “should.”They don’t do
things because they feel guilty.They
don’t do things because they imagine others expect them to do so.
attention to their bodies.They sleep
when they need to sleep.They hang
around with others when they want to be near.They take time to be alone. They ask for affection.They take time
to look out the window, to watch the birds, to just be and they are Okay with all of
that.They eat and play and run when the
mood strikes.They make time to groom
and to care for themselves.
Monday's snowfall edged the winter branches in white. I captured photos so early that despite photo adjustments, most of the pictures remained bluish. I liked the contrast of snow on dark wood so decided to share them even with the early morning's blue-grey.
The sun eventually turned the world a truer colour but it also melted away the snow. For a brief time, all was fresh and soft and lovely.
Most of the time, my mind composes lines of poetry and
creates fragments of stories no matter what else is happening around me.I carry a small notepad and a pencil everywhere
I go, to capture thoughts, observations, conversations and
phrases.At home, notebooks and pens lie
scattered, ready for words. Most of the time, my mind flows with writing.
But writing is harder than usual because I’ve been ill, had
surgery, radiation and an accompanying depression.These new and nasty experiences are behind me
now.Yet they remain close enough to
influence how well my mind works.
This “how well” part isn’t working so well.I loathe feeling so slow and so stupid, like
swimming blind through a river of slush.My clarity is
improving but at the pace of an icicle melting in winter. I attempt to write each day; the output comes in drips.
To journey through recovery is to wander in a fog of
weariness where thoughts and images flicker at a distance, indistinct and
muffled.I reach for them and they
retreat.I can’t bring them to the
page.Some days the fog smothers my way and I
am lost.I can’t write a thing.
I’m told this is normal.
Gosh! It's not comforting.I’m finished
my treatments, done with the meds and I want to be well.What my mind wants doesn’t matter; what my
body wants does.
I am weary.I
rest.I sleep.I am awake and energetic in short bursts,
then I am weary again.Am I improving? Yes.Are there longer periods of energy?Yes.Will I return to
myself?Yes…eventually.I am on the right track.
I am grateful for early diagnosis, for medical care, for
survival.I am thankful for moments when
mind-fuddle clears, when I can write, when I glimpse feeling at home within
But, I’ll be delighted as a four-year old in new rubber
boots on the first puddle-filled day of spring when my mind sheds this fog and
Until I can embrace my writing with all of myself, with every bit of myself...until then, I am on the right track...frustration on one side and patience on the other.