Sunday, November 6, 2011

The Cold, Lost Kittens And Leaves On The Ground

This past week the cold winds blew and our temperatures dropped.  It felt like Fall as the north wind blustered it's way into my part of the world.  Our teeth chattered and we bundled up as the thermometer readings fell.

The first night the temperatures fell into the 30s.  For Texas, in early November, that's more than cold enough.  I scrambled to make sure the plants were watered and covered.  I have this one Poblano pepper plant that has finally produced it's first pepper and since they have struggled through the searing heat and drought, this single piece of produce is very important to me.  Of course, it looks alot like a bell pepper but we shall see the final product in a few weeks.

The next morning, the normal get ready for work routine was disrupted by the sound of distress outside.  Braving the cold, My Son and I sought out the source of this perilous sound.  It was the sound of a cat, a cat crying.  It was cold but this was more than that, this was the sound of pain and the sound of being lost.

The hunt took us through shrubs and hedge, the morning still dark without the sunrise.  In and out of the shadows, we finally saw it, a very small kitten.  Being cat people plus one dog, the cold coupled with a lost kitten was heart wrenching.  We tried to quickly secure the kitten but she eluded us disappearing behind the garage.  We ran out of time, gathered our things for work and school and left.  Kitten would be on her own until we could get home.

The cold winds continued all that day.  The chill was enough to find us bundle in warm sweaters and jackets.  When I arrived home, there was no sign of the kitten.  I walked to the last place I had seen her and began to give out short "meows" in hopes she would reply.  She did.  She had survived the day.  I wasn't sure where she was, but I could hear her and that meant there was hope.  The forecast promised a freeze and little kitten was still out there in the cold and the dark, still crying for it's Mom, still  hungry and scared. I took the first bowl of food and water and left it behind the garage.

I went out before daylight to call to her the next morning.  It was so very cold out and was sure she did not survive the night.  The temps fell into the upper 20s, I called to her with my very best chattering teeth "meows", but heard nothing.  It was silent.I continued to call to her until I  had to return to the house and get ready for work.  My heart heavy, I left the house and went on to work.  My daughter called me on the way to her job and said they had heard the kitten just before they left the house.  My Son had gone looking for her but didn't see her.

That night, when I returned home, I took more food and water out and started calling the kitten.  It was not as cold and as I called, I was delighted to hear her call back to me.  I saw her at the farthest part of the yard, in the corner.  She came from underneath the small shed in the yard behind me.  She cautiously walked between the fence posts and looked at me.  I spoke softly to her but as I approached, she darted back through the fence and under the shed. I would have felt comfortable with her plight if it weren't for the five very large dogs that live in the yard in which the shed stood.  They are inside dogs but are let out into the back yard off and on during the day and evening.  I left the food and water near the opening at the post and went back in the house for the evening.

The next morning, I went out, called to her, she replied and the food dish revealed that something, hopefully the kitten had eaten.  Water level was lower so that was a good sign.  The weather was warming up and the night would be much warmer.

It had become a ritual to arrive home after work, toss my purse and empty lunch dishes aside and head to the corner of the back yard.  I had grown comfortable walking in the space that has been not traveled.  I called to my little friend and she answered,  hopped up on the various building items that lay against the fence and began watching me.  I was able to get closer and closer to this little baby that had either wandered too far from  home or been coldly discarded by a former owner.  By the end of the evening, I was sitting only inches away from the food and water, leaning against a tree, talking to her, calling to her and hearing her call back.

Now at my age, sitting on the ground is not something I do.  That's why man invented chairs, so people would not have to sit on the ground.  I tried sitting on a small stepping stool at first but it was not convenient to a fluid situation which required adjustments to distance and space.  I was moving closer to her as the comfort level increased.

I suppose that my desire to help this little kitten stripped away my grown up notion of where and how to sit.  Sitting on the leaves that covered the surface of the ground, leaning up against a tree near the fence in the corner of the yard now seemed perfectly acceptable.  Time passes very quickly when you are in a quiet place talking to tiny kitten.  Dishes don't get done nor do the other household tasks.  My maternal instincts were focused on one place, one kitten and the one chance I might have to get her to safety.

I began enjoying the time I spent back there.  I was alone, isolated from the routine and the normal evening activities.  Alone except for the kitten that had started to play just outside my view.  Her occasional visit and her precocious nature were refreshing to watch.  From where I sat there on the ground, there at the tree by the fence, I began to see the world as she saw it.  I understood how over the course of a few days, the building materials, the shed, the fence, the large stone and the leaves had become her whole world.  Over the course of a few days, they were becoming mine as well. I saw the world from a different perspective sitting there on the ground.  I saw how big the fence must have seemed to her, how tall the stacked rock stepping stones she climbed on were and how familiar the lay of the piping and other materials had become.  I liked seeing the world from that level and I began to wonder why I had abandoned it with age.

This afternoon, I braved the ill timed release of the dogs and found my way back to the corner of the yard once again, only this time, I had a small live trap with me.  I called to the kitten and she called back, loud and strong.  I placed her food dish inside the trap and sat it at the opening between the posts.  We talked in our "meows" and I watched her play.  It seemed she had no interest in coming through the fence to my yard.

I decided to let the trap stay overnight as it was getting dark and I couldn't see well inside the trap itself.  I got up off the ground and began to slow walk away, talking to her as I did.  As I moved away, she moved to the fence and it was obvious that she didn't want me to go or perhaps she didn't want to be alone.  I continued to walk away slowly, still talking to her and I saw her approach the trap.  I couldn't see her enter it but it was only a few seconds and I heard the trap close.

It was just that simple.  The kitten was frightened but safe.  She is now inside in a very large crate with everything she needs, food, water, small litter box and a soft old shirt to sleep on.  She even has a piece of yard tied to the top of the crate for her to play with.  She has much to learn in the "socializing with humans" department but I've held her, felt her purr and even doze in my arms.  It will take a few days but she will be fine.  I have already found her a home to go to and when she is ready, she will begin the next journey in her already very full young life.

As for me, I will sleep well knowing she is warm and safe and that no matter when the dogs are outside, she won't be frightened or cornered.  I am also walking away from the experience with a new found talent.  I now look forward to sitting on the ground, seeing the world from the bottom looking up.  The perspective is amazing and if you are like I was and only sit at chair level outside, I encourage you to take the dive and plant yourself on the ground sometime.  It's simply amazing what you will see, what you will notice and what you will learn about the Earth and about yourself.

 The lone yellow rose blooming in November.  Less than perfect after the long hot, dry summer, but most fragrant.

                                         The crepe myrtle found life enough to bloom as well.  

   And finally, the plant I lovingly call Miss Maria named after one of the most amazing women I shall ever have the good fortune to know and call friend.  This hardy, stubborn plant has also survived this most costly of summers.  Today she rewarded us with her blooms.  Thanks Maria!

*Footnote - My daughter informed me that the neighbors probably thought I had lost my mind as every day after work I immediately grabbed my cat food and water and proceeded to the back far corner of the yard to start meowing.  She thought them releasing the dogs might have been their way of deterring me from such behavior.  And here I thought I had a profound experience.

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