We have another little member of our cat family to introduce to the world. Meet Saber. He looks harmless and innocent, but he is not. This is another one of Kashka’s kittens, from her summer litter. She had four beautiful children, and three of them were adopted away. But not Saber. Which is a good thing. Because as irritating and obnoxious as Saber is, we had all fallen in love with him. He has a motorboat purr, dreamy amber eyes, and a cuddlebug personality. He loves affection. Until today, which was his first solo day outside, we would have to shut him up in the office when we were away from home or at night, since he has a proclivity towards destruction. If any cat was capable of arson, Saber would be. He let us all know that he hated being by himself by howling and yowling as I’ve never heard a cat howl or yowl. And not just any howl or yowl. “Yow-OW-OW-owwwwww!” Seriously. And, unfortunately, because he is so much fun to torment, we occasionally shut him up just to listen to him yowl. And then we let him out again and cuddle him to death. He climbs the beams in our cabin, terrorizes his half-siblings, terrorizes us, then comes and begs for loving, bumping his pink little nose against our faces with his motorboat purr reverberating peacefully.
Cats are such paradoxical creatures. Loving and sweet and terrifying all at once. One moment, the most destructive, active creatures. The next moment, the quietest pictures of peace and tranquility.
It always hurts to lose something you love, or someone, even if that someone is “just” a cat. I think we will all shed tears over this little critter, publicly or privately, and each miss him in our own way. He was Anna’s special cat, but all of us loved him. Even Dad, who always puts on a pretense of thinking that the critters are “just” critters and relatively useless ones at that, will miss Luna. Luna seemed like he was doing better day-before-yesterday, and seemed to be responding to our attempts to nurse him back to health, but he took a turn for the worse yesterday morning and fell asleep for good sometime this morning. We’ll miss his quirks and his cuddles.We had Luna for 2 years, and his personality has always amused and delighted and befuddled us. His looks were like a scientific illustration of a cat – he was perfect, with a long, thick tail, a perfectly proportioned body, and beautiful pale eyes. But aside from his looks, nothing else was dignified about him. He’s the cat who, even when quite full-grown, would curl himself up ridiculously to “nurse” on his own belly fur, a habit that he caught on to doing when his sister, Koshka, apparently missing their mother, started sucking on his belly when they were just 2-month-old kittens. Koshka eventually grew out of the habit, but not Luna. He’s the one who fell in love with Jess’s dog who was here for the first 9 months that we lived in the Hills. The two of them would love on each other, with Luna allowing Baby to groom him from head to tail. He’s the one we babied when he managed to get part of his tail degloved this winter when he got his tail closed in the front door, and he put up with our clumsy doctoring and his poor cone very patiently and sweetly. He was a forgiving cat. He’s the one who would taunt the dogs, then turn on them, claws unsheathed, and send the dogs scattering hilariously. Luna always strutted around like he was some hotshot, and then would go do something stupid. It is kind of hard to believe that crazy, beautiful cat is gone.
We all loved him.
Anna’s poor Luna-cat is sick. He is the big, beautiful boy who lost part of his tail this winter and who always seems to be getting into scrapes. A few days ago, he started acting funny, but given that he is kind of a weird cat already, he didn’t seem much weirder than usual. But it became clear he was not just weird but sick, so Anna and Mom took him to the vet yesterday, and it turns out he has kidney stones, which for a cat can be a pretty big deal.
I don’t know what you think about praying for critters, but I believe that the God who created animals does care about those same critters. If not even a sparrow can fall to the ground outside the will of the Father, then I also know that poor Luna is seen by God, and that God cares. So when our critters are sick, they are in my prayers. But more than that, if you pray to Jesus, send up a little prayer for Anna, since Luna is her particular favorite and I know she’ll be really sad if she has to put him down. Unfortunately, veterinary costs of hundreds of dollars for a cat are just plain not something we can do (maybe…won’t do? They’re animals, not people. Great, now PETA will come and arrest me and PETA’s minions will excoriate me for being cruel and inhumane). If Luna doesn’t start showing some improvement in the next few days, Anna might have an unpleasant choice to make. The poor cat obviously doesn’t feel good, but he isn’t suffering right now, so we’ll see how he does over the next few days.
Pets are one of those multifaceted gifts that God gives, that kind of leave me bewildered. They bring such joy (and sadness at times), and there really is no explaining it. When I see the uniqueness of each of our critters, or cuddle a purring cat, or feel Ember pouncing my feet the nights I let her sleep inside (that’s supposed to be a secret, by the way), I wonder at God’s goodness and winsomeness in providing these not-so-simple joys. What is simple about the exquisite beauty of God’s handiwork? The God who created the planets and the universe also created the cat’s purr and the dog’s loyalty. What a great God. He didn’t need to do any of that. But He did.
Well, we’ve gotten pretty good at cat-doctoring, particularly with Luna degloving his tail back in December, so I’m hoping our doctoring will set him right. We’ll see, I guess.
Literally. Opal took herself on an adventure a few days ago, and showed back up 20 minutes later looking like this:
What can you do? Sarah wasn’t here, and I didn’t feel like trying to give Opal a bath without help (she’s not my dog, so why would I try, right?), so I just let her dry into a muddy fuzzball. She didn’t seem to care, so I didn’t either. Oh, the fun of mud in the bottom of the stock dam…
Gift giving isn’t much a part of our American culture. I’m not really sure why, but generally speaking we don’t give gifts unless it is reciprocal – For instance, at Christmastime, or for a specific reason, such as birthdays. But Anna surprised me the other night by gifting me little Ember, one of her precious cats! It has been probably close to 10 years since I had my own pet, and this cat just tickles me. Part of Anna’s rationale was that the two boy cats, the more gregarious of the fleet, get a lot of attention while little Ember, who is shy and rather flighty, doesn’t get nearly enough. She is afraid of the dogs, so she won’t volunteer to come into our house unless the coast is completely clear, and her mom has disowned her. Ember’s two best friends are her brother and Ginger, the yellow stray we’ve semi-adopted. Anna figured rightly that I would love on little Ember. The mark of a good friend (or sister) is knowing how to give good gifts, and this was possibly the sweetest gift she could have given me. I’ve always had a soft spot for this particular kitten – She was the smallest of the litter of two, and her big brother would often push her off the teat and leave her meowing pitifully. She was very funny looking as a baby, with strange coloring and huge bat-like ears and an oddly-proportioned face, but she has turned into quite the distinctive little tortoiseshell cat. Ironically, she is also the kitten I named!
Winter is a time of brief, fleeting moments of dazzling beauty, of sights and sounds and silences that come and go with as little permanence as a snowflake, but with the brilliance of a diamond. That overwhelming moment is gone in an instant, leaving only the impression on one’s mind. The enchantment of the first snowfall melts in a few hours. The power of a blizzard wears itself out in a day. The snow cover of two months melts in two days. The leaden, snow-laden skies give way to cloudless blue, and winter breezes turn warm and then cold again. How changeable the season is!
Mom and I were able to thoroughly enjoy the delights of the changeable season today – It was strange to be hiking in short sleeves, with 70-degree temperatures and warm, sweet breezes, while trudging through 10-inch drifts and getting snow in our boots! Trixie, ever the snow puppy, pranced and raced and disappeared, entirely in her element. I would call her, only to look around and find her sprawled in a patch of snow, eating it and rolling in it and burying her face in it. A dog’s simple pleasures.
Part of the delight of winter is the joy of seeing things in ways we aren’t accustomed to in the rest of the year, particularly in the summer and spring. Those months are full to bursting with new life, and my attention is so drawn from color to color, from the new blossom like stained glass in the sunlight to the bluebirds on the wire overhead to the new fawns with their unmistakable freckles to the brilliant blue of sky and green of grass. But in the winter, you have to look with different eyes. Then you can see the watercolor painting in the snowfall, the etched crystal work in the frosty window or frozen creek, the tapestry of spun gold in the grasses, the white jewels in the snowdrift.
We were nearing home, walking through an ancient creekbed, when we caught sight of an old bucket, rusted through and almost flattened, and nearby were a bunch of tin cans and some broken glass. I was thrilled. We had found a junk pile from the homesteading or mining days, of which our place saw a good deal! The whole property is pocketed with old mining pits, remnants of bygone days. We dug around a little in the grass, and found four intact glass jars and bottles, and a white enamel pot, which unfortunately is frozen stiff in the dirt. It looks to be in one piece. As soon as it warms up in the spring and the ground thaws out, I want to dig around and see what else was discarded! Who knows how many times we’ve walked past this junk pile in the summer and never saw it for the tall grass! Simple joys on a glorious winter day.