Saturday, January 28, 2012

Cat and the Shed

A feral cat lives under this garden Shed in our front yard.
Snow is falling in sheets in the pre-dawn darkness...large, pure white sparkling sheets. Since it is not too cold, I sit on the front steps, well wrapped up, and watch as Lucky checks out who visited in the night.

I believe we have a feral cat living under the little garden shed. I can't say for sure. I have only seen her once. But judging by the amount of cat prints around the driveway and the shed, she certainly visits often...

This is where Lucky found the trail to come up from the Draw, down behind the pile of Snow.
I saw her one morning, as I stood by one of the front windows, sipping my coffee. She was sitting in Sun's rays, in a golden circle of light, and she was washing herself. It's been a long time since I have seen a Cat really groom herself. I had forgotten how intent they seem upon the act, yet they are instinctively alert to any seeming danger.

She looked like a Coon Cat, but it was difficult to say. She was grey and black, long-haired and large! This was one wild cat who looked as if she had no trouble looking after herself.

There will be much ploughing and shovelling today!
And then the thought struck...perhaps she was so large because she was pregnant? Oh, oh.

Lucky, covered in Snow and looking like a large, furry, white dog, with bits of red hair showing, makes a bee-line to the bottom corner of the shed. Sniffing once, he makes the decision...the Cat was in there!

Stiff-legged, he walks around the shed...and I immediately hear a soft, muffled yelp as he misjudges a Snow drift and falls down into the Draw...

As I come around the corner of the shed, he was already dusting himself off at the bottom of the Draw. It is really dark back there behind the shed and I can't see well, but I know he will find it difficult to come back up from where he's fallen.

It is so very, very DARK in the Draw...
Lucky tries to climb back up over the fallen logs and branches, and quickly gives up. I walk over to another area, further from the shed, where I have some light from the porch. There is an old trail there...I hope Lucky can find it in the dark and the falling Snow.

This whole thing is becoming ludicrous.

I am covered in Snow, it is dark as Hades, and I am becoming aware that it is also cold. It is 5:30 AM...what on Earth am I doing outside in pyjamas, in the Cariboo Winter, trying to coax a Dog back up from a deep, dark Draw?

Oh well. It is where I am at the moment. And the Dog is Lucky...

That Orb is following me around...
He is having trouble traversing the bushy, Branch-strewn area and it is slow going for him. I glance around and am startled to see two golden eyes fixated upon me, from the hole in the Earth around the bottom of the garden shed.

I stare at them, those golden eyes as mesmerizing as the drifting, falling sheets of Snow.

The sound of Lucky clambering about in the Snow falls away, as quick thoughts chase through my mind. Is it a Cat? Are those eyes not too large for just a small Cat? The hairs at the back of my neck begin to rise...and not only because it is cold.

Doubtful, but in the dark?...
Coming back to myself, I find that Lucky has found the trail, not any the worse for wear...and that the smell of Cat has grown intensely for him. I look around and find the eyes no longer there. But Lucky is back to his intense sniffing, where it seems like he wants to snuffle up the contents of whatever it is under the shed.

It is a safe place for a feral Cat to over-Winter. Now that I am back on the safety of the porch, I have found my common sense and courage, and am sure it is a Cat. So close to the house, it is unlikely a predator would bother to dig for this prey, ensconced so cozily in the Earth underneath the little green another measure of safety. I wonder again if she is pregnant.

I go into the house and grab a towel. Our boy Lucky is wet and covered in Snow, with a few scratches here and there, and I want to brush him off before he comes into the house. I brush myself off as well...

Not my photo, but reminiscent of those golden eyes!
Lucky comes to me reluctantly, when I call him. As he trots over, I see those eyes, from underneath the shed, again. I send thoughts of safety and well-being to those wonderful, golden eyes, so much wiser regarding life in the wild, than any I know.

Lucky and I go in, grateful for the warmth. As I sit here, I battle with myself...should I go out with a little food for our feral Cat? I know the feeding wildlife, even if it is a Cat. But there is a Blizzard blowing...

I warm up, my limbs becoming less stiff. I ponder and wonder. I shake my head, knowing what I will do, even as I argue with myself. What if the animal is not a Cat?

A Keeper of Animals
I put finishing touches to a drawing of another face, another unknown somebody to add to the piles of other unknown faces. The face I am finishing at the moment is a gentle one, a youngish lady, a Keeper of Animals. I hear her words, as I stare into her eyes.

She tells me all things, wild and tame, deserve a break now and again. She asks me to put myself in the Animal's place, under a shed, in a Snow Storm, with Snow drifts much higher than a small Animal. She asks me...have I ever known real hunger and thirst? Suddenly, it no longer matters if the Animal is a Cat.

And there is a tin of Tuna in the cupboard...

The Soul-Searcher
I put on the layers of clothing required to go outside in a Snow Storm. I take the bowl of Tuna and, as I step off the porch into the suddenly very deep Snow, I realize I should have worn boots, as the indescribable cold Snow satiates my shoes and feet...

Too late now. My feet are already blocks of Ice, so at least there is no feeling there. I consider it will not take long to place the bowl of Tuna where the Cat will find it easily, but I have not taken into that consideration the quickly falling Snow and how deep it is becoming.

I go around the back of the Shed, where overhanging branches from the Fir Trees keep Snow away. Usually.

It is becoming light now, Dawn has arrived. I place the bowl of Tuna close to the only opening left at the bottom of the Shed...others are completely covered by Snow.

The Judge
I see where Lucky made his mistake in the dark and avoid the area, but as I turn away from placing the bowl of Tuna, Snow is driven by Wind directly into my face. I stumble and fall.

I fly face first into a huge drift of Snow, which also breaks my fall. I have so many layers of clothing on, as I hit the Snow, I hardly feel any pain, but I know it will surely arrive later. Fibromyalgia does not like face plants into Snow in the cold. However, I continue to lie there, catching my bearings.

I wonder how long it would take before I am completely covered in Snow. Not long, I'd wager, since there is at least a foot that has fallen since Lucky and I were first outside. When Snow falls like this in the Cariboo, many things are covered which don't see the light of day until May...

So far, I find lying here in the Snow comfortable, other than freezing feet. As I turn my head to breathe better, I glance over at the bowl...and see a grey Cat head withdrawing back under the Shed, as she sees me moving.

As I stiffly gather myself back up, I am glad I saw her. I am glad, as well, that I braved the Snow and cold and brought her a little sustenance, on a day like this, when she may not be able to go out to hunt for food.

The Nurse
I brush myself off and as quickly as I can (which is rather slow...there is Ice beneath the Snow, and conditions are very slippery) I seek the warmth of the house and hot coffee.

The day has begun with a bang...and it is not even 7 AM yet. Good grief...

As I watch the falling Snow, I wonder what the rest of the day will bring.

If it is up to me, it will be spent with feet propped up in front of the Fireplace and perhaps, drawing another face, another somebody with wisdom to impart...

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Dark of Winter

January's Icy Driveway!
The dark of Winter has enveloped my corner of the World. Twilight arrives very early...sometimes lights never go off during the day.

It has not been terribly cold...the temperature dipped to -20C a few times and every number in between, but we have had very warm days, as well. Day in which I felt an instinctive urge to garden, were the ground not frozen solid...

Snow blankets every thing. It is astonishingly beautiful, sometimes blindingly so. The landscape can be harsh, depending on the lighting and the time of day, but it can also be meltingly soft and inviting. The Cariboo is a land of extremes; I do not find it easy to live here, yet I love the stunning views, the never-ending Sky, the very feel of the place.

No Saskatoon Berries Left! Awwww....
The Animals are behaving strangely, I have noticed, lately. They seem to huddle near this house, during their resting periods. The other day, Lucky and I were taking our usual walk, when I noticed something...different...down in the Draw.

I had to take more than a few glances at the dark pile that looked as if it belonged, but wasn't there yesterday. That dark pile turned out to be one of the largest mule Deer I have ever seen.

She was lying against a small Birch Tree, not more than a few feet from the house and visible from the Office window. Lucky, because of Wind direction, did not smell her and his eyesight is bad, in any case. He seemed agitated, somewhat, but he did not catch sight of her.

A Mule Deer's Bedroom
I'd heard Wolves howl very early that morning, under the Wolf Moon. I wondered if she'd been chased, and had taken refuge in the deep Draw, close to Humans. Or perhaps she'd actually been hurt...

I stood at the top of the Draw. I tried to take photos, but it was cold that day and my camera would not work properly. Since I could not zoom in, these photos here are the best of the bunch.

She knew I was taking photos. She knew I was there and that Lucky was there, as well. Her eyes half closed, she seemed completely at rest...but what if she was not? What if she'd been injured? How could I find out?

I thought I would stop projecting my what-ifs into the ether and let sleeping Deer lie, after a bit of time where I went into a tizzy.

For two days, the Deer chose that spot for her resting place. During the one afternoon, she did not go far...I spotted her browsing across the road, at one point. And she was there again the next morning, completely at ease. Then she was gone...

She decided we were no threat to her at all...

The Deer is a blatant example of Animals seeking refuge here. There are many places where I find Vegetation and Snow trampled down in the shape of an Animal who has slept there for awhile. The Squirrels have their favourite branch of the Fir Tree outside our bedroom. They will rest at any time of day, in full view of our comings and goings, looking very cute and peaceful.

Since about two thirds of our property has been left in a wild state, and since even here, wild pieces of property are becoming increasingly rare, I imagine there are many Animals who call this place home, deep in the Forest. And as I rarely go into the very wild places, preferring not to come face to face with a Bear or Cougar or Wolf, Animals would certainly find  safe homes there.

But these resting spots I have found are very close to the house. The feeling is strange, but it is as if they are seeking the security of being close to...a Human? If I were an Animal, possibly the last place I would want to be is right beside a Human's home.

I wonder when the Ice will melt!!! It could be months...
But times...they are a'changin'. And Animals are far more in tune with Mother Earth than Humans are.There is an odd feeling of contentment within me in having Animals feel comfortable enough to enjoy the surrounding peace here.

January has me more house bound than usual. The trip into Williams Lake can be iffy, depending on the ever-changing weather. I am very grateful that I have a vehicle which takes road conditions, whatever they may be, with panache and ease.

With the constant melting and freezing, the bottom of our driveway has turned into a frozen Pond. I have not been able to go for my usual walks; I am terrified of slipping on this great expanse of Ice. Graham's small commuter car takes on a mind of its own, when he goes to the office.

But the Torrent, a small SUV, has no problems with the Ice whatsoever. I know I can drive out of here, at least...

Welcome home!
I rarely do, however, preferring to buy everything I need in town about every two weeks or so. Especially in the Winter. Walking anywhere, be it here on our property or in the City, can be treacherous...Ice lies on every road and sidewalk.

The only time inclement weather bothers me is when we must travel for medical reasons for Graham. Twelve hour round trips to Kelowna can be so much more difficult in Blizzard conditions.

I've learned to take the time for quiet activities...ones which usually have me dozing in my chair. I sleep far more in the Cariboo Winter than I ever did on the Coast. And I find long-time residents are surprised at my is the way it is here and it is expected.

This little home is so welcoming and charming in the deep, purple twilight!
All I know for sure matter how much sleep I receive during the night, I still doze each time I attempt any 'quiet activities'.

And what better time to give in to those delicious little dozing moments than in the Dark of Winter?

"And something born of the snowy desolation, born of the midnight and the silent grandeur, born of the great listening hollows of the night, something that lay 'twixt terror and wonder, dropped from the vast wintry spaces down into his heart—and called him."~~Algernon Blackwood  The Glamour of Snow