Tuesday, May 28, 2013

A note from the cats

Why is this blog always about dogs? We live here too and we do a lot more than sit around in boxes and take naps.

Sometimes we sit in bags,

 or baskets,

or sprawl out on the stairs to see who we might trip.

We chase moths that sneak in to the house when the dog goes out and flies that zoom from room to room and bounce off windows. We’ll even take a swipe at a toy if it happens to roll by within reach.

We plan escapes,

and stalk birds and deer and rabbits from the safety of the house.

We keep constant tabs on water and food dishes, what the dog is doing and the levels of sunshine available throughout the house.

Clearly this blog should be called Two Amazingly Ingenious Cats Live Here, The Chronicles of Chestnut and Cleo (This is not about dogs).

And until something changes, we are going to do nothing but just sit here in this box.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Rainy day dog

We make it to the end of the road before lightning flashes in a sheet, quick and blinding over the dull day. Thunder rumbles long and loud rolling over the mountains and across the sky as though it is a physical thing and I can almost see it tumbling above the trees at the trailhead in a great arc across the horizon to finally trail away into the distance.

“Okay Murds,” I call as the rain starts again, but he has already disappeared. Run off with Jack into the woods just past the creek, which has become a great surging river after a day of relentless heavy rain.

So I call again, scan the trees, turn my ear towards the woods, listening for the telltale rustle and crack of underbrush as Murdoch and Jack gallivant off on some adventure. There is nothing but the sound of water dripping from trees, running in streams over the ground, falling from the sky. The rain comes down harder, clatters on the hood of my raincoat and I call for Murdoch again.

There is another flash and more thunder, closer this time and I think the woods are not a great place to be. I wander back to the road and wait in the rain. Watch it bounce off the creek that is now a river that had become a beaver pond last fall, pointed stumps of trees emerge from deep puddles along the edge of the trail.

I am about to call again when two small shapes bound from among the trees some distance up the trail. I wave my arms over my head and call. Murdoch pounds towards me, Jack lolloping along behind, not ready to commit in case something more interesting presents itself.

I clip Murdoch’s leash to his collar, wet and cold, and try to explain about lightning. He walks home slightly behind me, subdued, soaked through. It is the shortest walk in the history of walks and he hangs his head as though he is being punished.

The rain continues. For days it falls from a solid grey sky, sometimes pounding so heavily on the roof it drowns out all other sounds and turns the forest outside our windows into a dark green blur glimpsed through a grey curtain. It falls in gentle showers and blows along the road in sheets and hangs in the air like a mist, until everything is saturated and tree branches droop, laden down with globules of glass.

Murdoch and I slosh through the woods, our well-trodden trails running like tiny rivers, bubbling over rocks and roots. We return to the meadow at the end of our road, just before the trail begins, and play frisbee over the sodden ground as the rain pours down. Murdoch splashes through the field, kicking up water, then swims in an icy puddle that has formed in the ditch and spread out in to the field.

The days are dark and dreary, and yet because of the rain they are full of energy and promise that when it eventually stops, and the sun comes out again, there will be flowers.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Without Bear

The sun still rises each day from behind the mountain beyond the trees outside our bedroom window and sets each evening behind the mountain beyond the trees outside our other bedroom window.

There is still oatmeal bubbling on the stove every morning and tea poured, steaming, into mugs.

There is still peanut butter on toast and a Kong spit out at my feet and cats stomping around, indignant and demanding food.

There is still drool on the floor in great hazardous puddles and dripped quietly onto socked feet.

There are the sounds of thick claws clipping across wooden floors and heavy footfalls thumping up and down the stairs.

Big brown eyes still bore into the back of my head, imploring me to go outside, hot breath wafts in my direction off the end of a long pink tongue.

There are still walks in the woods and games of stick and sunlight slanting through trees just so.

There are still ravens, black as night, following our progress on the trail, wheeling overhead and calling to each other in their deep varying voices.

The wind still cuts a path through the trees like a current moving swiftly through the ocean.

Leaves still crinkle underfoot.

Snow still melts quietly in the shadows.

There are still blue skies and scudding clouds and mountains outlined behind skeletal trees that are starting to bud and will soon become a canopy of green.

There are warm breezes to send grasses rustling and kick up swirls of leaves from last season.

There are still icy cold puddles in the woods and chewed up sticks scattered amongst the trees.

There is still a comforting warmth from the sun on the deck in the afternoon and golden light on shiny black fur.

The woods are still alive with raucous birds and chittering squirrels and tiptoeing deer and rabbits changing from white to brown.

There are still noses pressed up against windows and loud barking alarms to be sounded and howling laments to be sung.

There are parades at breakfast and suppertime, stampedes for bowls of food.

There are rafts of fur collecting in corners and floating on currents of air across floors.

In the evening there are long sighs and meaningful glances alluding to the great adventures that are still to be had.

There are ears to be flapped and cheeks to be pinched and foreheads to kiss.

There are still all of these things.

But everything is different.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Because it is spring

I am not going to write about snow again. I am not going to write about how it is May and the snow is still piled in the woods in the deep shadows where the spring sun doesn’t reach. I am not going to write about how the temperature dropped again last week after days of drying sunshine and how it froze the melting snow so it was in turns crunchy underfoot and then slick and slippery with a new coating of white on top, deceptive in its fluffiness.

I am not going to write about how the calamitous underbrush emerged on the forest floor, a puzzle of downed trees, entwining limbs, “oh yeah, this is what it looks like”, only to be quickly covered up again by a thin layer of white.

I am not going to write about how the snow sifted down through the trees just days ago as though it were a dark fall day in November when it should be exciting, magical even, to see the flakes again after months of green.

I am not going to write about the deer flashing past in the woods, the same colour as the bare trees, noticeable only because of the fresh white background, making hardly a sound just the faint crack of a twig. I am not going to write about the well defined hoofprints I followed a short way through the snow, wondering at all the spaces through which the deer could have darted and yet it chose the well-trodden path where my foot prints and Murdoch’s paw prints mingled with the cloven shapes, like a highway through the forest.

I am not going to write about those things because it is spring and today the snow is melting.

Now the woods have become a circuit of tiny rivers all babbling amongst the trees. The sounds of rushing water where the melt water converges in the deep ditches and flows beneath the road to the creek that rages this time of year through our neighbour’s forest fills the quiet.

Murdoch and I splash our way in to the woods, slop through swathes of snow that still sprawl across the forest floor, turning to shelves of ice before melting into streams.

We follow our old paths once carved in snow, completely gone now, completely altered from the smooth white landscape to raucous piles of wet wood, downed trees in various states of decomposition. We have to scramble over obstacles that we haven’t seen since the fall and we emerge on a wide trail of old bleached grasses between two stands of forest that is navigable only certain times of the year, at winter’s beginning and end, and sometimes in the thick of the coldest months when a trail has been maintained by foot or cut by snow mobile.

The wide path leads to a dry south-facing hillside, brown, brittle scrub grass crackles underfoot as we zigzag down the slope to a cool pocket of snow amidst a stand of trees. Beyond we emerge on to an endless meadow, bright yellow beneath the brilliant sun. Bleached grasses flattened and pointing all towards the east as though a great river rushed through here not long ago at the base of the mountain. We cannot see the earth beneath the grasses they are so thick, layers upon layers covering the ground so that each rustling step is soft and spongy, water lying somewhere deep below filters up in our footprints. Small pools dot the meadow.

Murdoch sees something I do not and dashes off at top speed, water flying from his heels. He smells something else and changes direction. He runs in ever-widening circles so he becomes a tiny black figure in this open space. We head towards the mountain, separately. I am not worried about him here, there is absolutely no one else around, so I can wander, get lost in thought, come back and scan the distance to find him also lost in thought, or smell.

We loop around another small stand of trees in the far corner of the meadow where more snow, loose and crystalline, still hangs on beneath the glare of the sun and the warm, sighing breezes. And then we head back across the bright expanse of flattened, springy grass and up the slope seared by the sun, to the wide path and finally the shade of the forest, damp and cool and refreshing.

It smells like snow on the breeze that winds through the trees. There are patches of ice, smooth and slick with rounded edges molded around rocks and moss and fallen trees and in spots, wet granular snow that is still up past my ankles, but I am not going to write about those things, because it is spring.