Last month when the rest of the country began to complain about the seemingly endless amount of snow they’d been buried beneath this winter, we were basking in sunny days, warm breezes and average temps hovering at 70. I had a suspicion we’d get hammered in February, and although the hammering may not be quite like that of others — say Fargo — it’s all relative. When it drops below 50 here, it’s cold.
At just over 18 months, and with outside privileges still reasonably new, Lizzie our fierce kitty hasn’t factored weather into her day, which begins about 6:30. She waits quietly for the MoH to make it downstairs, exercising even more restraint until I appear to take care of the morning cat meal. Precious, the old one, waits by the stairs, and I brace myself with a cautionary grip on the handrail knowing Lizzie will launch herself down the stairs, hitting only one of six in her flight to her dish thereby letting everyone know her day is wasting away. She preens past the old one’s dish as I spoon the wet food over the dry, and has finished licking the juice off the plate before Precious arrives at her dish, casting Lizzie a look that confirms her patience is all an act and that she has no manners.
Lizzie could care less.
I can hear her yeowling and know she’s perched on the big chair near the patio door, a wild look in her eyes and ears set in anxious impatience — up and back. She wants out. She wants out now. We ignore her for the most part while making toast and tea or coffee, mimicking her cries consolingly and reminding her to wait until the MoH leaves for work. This made complete sense at one point, because I imagined she’d hear him go out the front door, follow him to the car, then risk being in the wrong place at the wrong time when it seems the entire neighborhood is headed to school or work each morning.
I’ve had to remove a few cats from the road in my life, so the decision to let one go outside comes with much thought, caution, and worry.
In the past few days, we’ve had rain and are expecting more this weekend. It’s always welcomed as far as I’m concerned, but Lizzie isn’t thrilled to have puddles to avoid on her way out the door. Focused on the hummingbird that seems to have been taunting her lately, she inadvertently steps in one and recoils, shaking her paw as if in pain, then darts back to the door which I’ve already closed. Of course I get up from the cup of coffee cooling too quickly on this chilly morning and let her in, knowing she’ll want out in a few minutes.
Yesterday, I caught her trying to scale the back wall. I’ve always been thankful that as feisty as she is, she’s also a bit skittish, startled by loud noises. She, like Precious and sweet Blackitty before her, had never been curious about that wall, so I was surprised to see her leap nearly to the top. It borders our patio from a two-lane street which is busy with traffic at a few points during the day. The one I’ve seen other cats use as a sort of path in the evening when they’re headed for whatever nocturnal mischief our cats are never allowed to find out about. I yelled at her just as she was ready to pull herself up over the top and she fell back to the ground, running from me, knowing that I’d put her back in the house while I stayed outside without her.
She’s been in and out probably 15 times since I’ve been sitting here, or puttering about the kitchen this morning, Sometimes, she’ll call to me from the door, and when I go to look out at her, motioning to open it, will run to flop on the dusty flagstones, wanting me to come outside with her. It works, of course, and I’m distracted from this, from the fougasse finally ready for the oven after being forgotten last night, and from other things I said I’d get done today.
I rub her belly noticing the warmth of the sun on my back, and eye the pile of rocks waiting to be cemented to the planters. I should be out here, not sitting in the house. I should bring some more rocks up from the garage. Should mix another batch of cement. Get another six feet or so finished.
Lizzie is distracted by yet another bird and darts away, leaving me to return to the house, to this, and to the mess in the kitchen left from the fougasse. If I hurry, the mess will be clean and maybe I’ll be able to spend some time out there with Lizzie in the sun before the clouds roll in.
I can see her out there now, waiting for me.