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Cool Critters


The porch kitties seem to have rediscovered the charms of the heated kitty condos available to them here at the manse. I now have three regulars to greet me in the morning (At about 6:00a.m., so you know what the temperature has been like) when they get their breakfast. There’s I.B.M.—Irresponsibly Bad Mamma, Moppet (named like a cow we once had—small, shaggy and somehow lovable), the former kitten that I’m just getting to be able to pick up (Heaven only knows how old it is—still don’t know what flavor cat it is), and an old black tom that I make sure to scare off every Halloween, because who knows what some sick-o might do to him…and claim it was all in fun, of course. Anyway, there are three of them and I haven’t noticed many others around lately, though a tortoiseshell was running through the back yard the other day.

Don’t know what they do during the day but they’re usually there in the morning and willing to be fed. They have indicated that my choice of free food is not necessarily to their liking—it’s whatever is on sale or I have coupons for—but they will deign to finish it off if that’s all I can come up with. I suspect that raccoons and/or ‘possums sometimes help out with that, at least until they go to bed for the winter. The question of water is a bit more tricky. We haven’t got a heated facility yet, so there’s usually a frozen crust on top of a morning…always makes me think of the Peanuts cartoons where Snoopy or Woodstock are skating on his water dish or the birdbath. Haven’t spotted any red scarves or knotted hats in the neighborhood. No triple axels or pirouettes either. Maybe they’re not planning to take the Russians’ place at the Olympics next year. Anyway, this means that they get fresh water every day because I have to empty the whole bowl and refill it. Don’t know where they were getting their refreshments after the creek started to freeze over along the edges. Doesn’t matter now.

The inside cats, all three of them, have become much less interested in escaping to the Great Outdoors and much more attracted to my bed, new mattress, new spread, old comforter. The mattress, a super-duper model that’s supposed to do everything except hum Brahms’ Lullaby, beginning at 9:00 p.m., has begun to look a lot like the one I got when I inherited it from my grandparents many moons ago. It has a rump-sprung, butt-sunken look (Must be the “memory foam” has forgotten to get back into shape, not mine) that my felines just love, because it’s instant cat comfort; any one of them can just settle in in the depression and be in luxury central, summum bonum. They like it.
And about other animals in the winter time…. I was driving up to Middlefield the other day and just as I got past Adams Rd., the curve there by the old Sheehan place, some houses on the west side, open fields on the east side, and I noticed some sort of movement to my right—east side. Bounding across the picked-over cornfields were four young white-tailed deer—bunch of teenagers out for a good time. They went back-and-forth, they went around each other, they leapt into the air, they stopped to sniff the air then took off again, tails flashing. Just the most exhilarating performances to witness on a dull winter day. I slowed way down, pumped my brakes to make it clear that I was doing so, to watch and to give the bunch time to get across the road, which they surely were going to do (There was one car behind me and none coming from the other direction.). After a few more moments of sheer exuberance, they did, indeed, head on across the highway and off through another field between the houses, on their way to the woods further west. What a treat to see.

We used to see similar sights at home looking south out of the kitchen window. The “south forty” is right across the road from the north edge of Findley State Park, so deer would frequently choose to make the passage from our woods and fields to the heavier concentration—and safety—of the park. The unsafe part was the blacktop of State Rte. 58. Unfortunately, it was not all that uncommon for some of them to make contact with a car or truck claiming right-of-way; nobody wins that kind of dispute.
Actually, that curve is also a fairly common location for automobiles to either have unfortunate meetings with other vehicles or leave the pavement to explore other possibilities, none of them good. At least one or two of them managed to get all the way to our front yard, even taking out a tree or two. I remember calling the ambulance ( It was operated by the funeral home at the time) one morning in the dark. Not the way you want to wake up.

Now, Party Animals have been spotted in the wild as well. The Santa Pub Crawl seemed to have attracted various forms of flora and fauna. The displays of plumage—from plaid to glitter to winking and blinking—were impressive…if you’re into that sort of thing…as many were. Numerous perches and lairs around town seemed to have attracted some strange birds and beasts seeking their natural habitat. Natural might not be the first word that comes to mind when observing these festivities, but the mating calls were pretty cheerful
Chins up! December 21st is the shortest day of the year; winter officially begins. Spring will be on the way!