It is a bitter cold, yet beautiful sunny day today. The trees are glistening because many of their branches are still encased in ice. As I sit here in my warm and sunny office writing I noticed there is a family of deer grazing on the southeastern facing hillside across from our property. There are several inches of snow on the ground but they seem to be finding vegetation here and there. I wonder to myself, “where do they live—where do they sleep at night?” And my thought in reply was “I hope they have a cave to cuddle up in.” Of course I then did a little Internet research and not surprisingly deer don’t sleep much at night, tending to be cautious of predators. When they do get some shut-eye in winter, they might find some low branches of conifers to hide under. Mostly they stay warm by staying in motion and consuming whatever they can find.
I am so grateful that I live on a quiet property where the wild animals roam. We have deer, an occasional red fox, skunk, squirrels, raccoons, wild turkey and chipmunks and we’ve even been visited by a black bear. And though I was very frustrated that the deer ate so many of my beautiful flowers when I first started our garden twenty some odd years ago, at this point I seem to have found a balance of plants they don’t care about and a few that I spray with stinky stuff to keep them away.
I deeply love animals. Growing up we always had pets. There were goats, swans, gerbils, guinea pigs, and we always had a cat. When I was very young we had a cat that I don’t really remember much at all though my brother who is older does. Most of my memories are of our dark calico cat named Minu who at some point gave birth to a litter on my lime green painted cast iron bed. Minu was just always a part of my life from grammar school through high school. It wasn’t until much later that Andy and I adopted two kittens from a local shelter, Anubis our grey short-hair tabby and his brother Horus our orange long-hair tabby.
Anubis and Horus were the loves of my life for 15 and 11 years respectively. I noticed yesterday that I no longer imagine hearing them padding around the house like I did for over a year after each had passed away. But then of course having thought about them during the day, last night I dreamed that I saw a new kitten in the house who looked just like Anubis but one eye appeared to be greyed over like it wasn’t functional. When I woke up I began to faintly recollect many dreams over the years I have had about Horus and Anubis. One recurring strange dream was that there were more than one Anubis and Horus roaming about the house and appearing out of the nooks and crannies of our basement. I would get very upset because I couldn’t detect whether the cat in front of me was the real Anubis or Horus or the fake stand-in. I would remain worried until I woke up and determined that the genuine Anubis or Horus was safely snuggled with us.
Andy and I have been giving ourselves some grieving space since we lost Anubis in 2017. I think that my dreams are alerting me of my growing yearning for adopting another two fur babies. Just the thought of holding them closely, petting them and hearing their purring gets me calm and happy. And yet while I think of how joyful it will be to have new kittens, I realize that I will always miss and grieve Anubis and Horus. Grief doesn’t go away, it just shifts and changes. It’s just two years since my Dad died and it will be two years in June since Anubis died, so grief is present, but not as raw. Sometimes I have images of my Dad sitting on a couch with Anubis and Horus snuggled up to him. It’s a nice thought. And I look forward to snuggling up with some purring critters soon. Until then, I will continue to enjoy viewing the wild animals from my window and I send my love and kindness to all creatures great and small.