It was a cold we will tell our grandchildren about: indeed, the last time it was this cold in my province was at almost the same date, one hundred years before. Record-breaking freezing temperatures and windchills affected much of Eastern Canada and the United States during the first week of February, 2023. At its coldest, the weather in my province – including the windchill – plummeted to -45 Celsius (-49 Fahrenheit).
Some of the best advice I ever got as a new mother was from an older woman who advised me ‘never, ever, to tell stories about my children to friends and colleagues’. Relatives were okay, she told me, as long as they were clearly showing signs of being interested but even that, she warned, was ‘stepping on shaky ground’. “No one wants to hear you bragging about your perfect kids.” She told me bluntly. “It just makes them feel inadequate – or on the defensive – about their own kids.” She didn’t warn me that whichever family member I would boast about would eventually prove me wrong.
She let me figure that one out for myself.
With the advent of social media, it has become impossible not to see – on a daily basis – how much better your friends’ grandchildren are doing; how wonderful their married life is; how well behaved their dog is compared to your own, how… Well, I’m sure you get the picture.
The point is, I should have known better. But despite all the great advice I received about the downfalls of boasting about one’s family members, I have previously boasted, on this very blog, about my cat Maggie. Specifically, I extolled her virtues as being perhaps the only Buddhist cat on the planet. While I had watched her watching other cats hunt, never had I seen her lift so much as a paw in the direction of another living creature. Not even a ladybug. If you check out my last post on Maggie, you will see the proof.
She is getting on in years – she turned twelve this past June – and she’s become a little…shall we say… self-assured at this stage of her life. I wonder if perhaps she was sparing me the pain of seeing her true nature until now, but as she and I grow comfortably old together, she has very much become her ‘own cat’, so to speak.
My first clue that she might no longer be a Buddhist were the feathers on the lawn near the bushes where she regally spends her days (she never leaves the yard anymore). So convinced was I of her Buddhist tendencies that I honestly couldn’t imagine how the feathers got there. Shortly after I found the feathers, my husband spotted a wounded bird hopping about in our neighbours’ garden. We both tried to find it. I believe that my husband’s plan was to put it out of its misery if it were too far gone. My plan was to lovingly bring it into the house and nurture it back to health. Maggie being a Buddhist meant this would be a lovely and easily achievable plan: perhaps even educational. We couldn’t find the poor bird, however, and we both reluctantly went on with our day (well I know I was reluctant. I probably shouldn’t speak for my husband).
Later that same day, sitting in my living room, my gaze was drawn to a multitude of black birds that have been descending onto our lawn every evening to eat whatever insects are out at that time of the day. I noted with interest that several of the birds were just a few feet away from Maggie’s little hidey-hole in the bushes. I couldn’t see her – she is well hidden when she is in there – but I had the time to warmly think what a lovely view she must have, before my precious little Buddhist came crashing out of the bushes to pounce neatly on one of the hapless birds.
In horror, I raced out of the house toward the scene of the crime. Mercifully, there seemed to be no blood and as soon as Maggie saw me lumbering toward her, she dropped the poor bird, who made a swift exit on wings that still seemed to be working just fine. Maggie didn’t seem angry with me; just a little confused; as I swiftly picked her up and pulled one lone black feather out of her mouth before grimly (but lovingly) marching her into the house.
I swear, Maggie strutted like a lioness for three days after…
n.b. I do know that cats are an invasive species and I strongly support spaying and neutering all cats – especially the feral ones. I have also started ensuring that Maggie is not allowed out at the birds’ key feeding times, which are very easy to identify here in the country. And she is never allowed out at night, when her nocturnal hunting would be in full overdrive.
It hit us both at almost exactly the same time, with precisely the force of a Mack truck. A truly terrible bout of stomach flu, with fever, chills and painful body aches thrown in for good measure. I will spare you the unpleasant details; suffice it to say that neither of us have been that sick in years. Four days later and we are just beginning to come around. Continue reading “The Difference Between Cats and Dogs”
Photos of Lucky: Stephen Kenny (my brother-in-law)
The years after my divorce were pivotal ones for me. I came out of my shell and into my own. It’s not really that I learned to stand on my own two feet, so much as I learned that I had always been able to take care of myself. Continue reading “Lucky-Lou”