Thursday, January 20, 2011


When I go outdoors these winter dawns, before I make big human footprints all over the snow I spend the first few minutes reading the wild news on that big white page, checking out the animal tracks there, surfing the feral net to see who's been by and gone from where to where, what they did while here-- the Baron, for one, always comes out of the night woods from the south, circles the house, checks out the compost pile, browses in his favorite spots, avoids the fence around the garden, noses up some green weeds and at last moves on up to his place of daytime repose in the forest. Monkeys don't move by night, so there's no trace of them, which is fine by me, no news is headline news in re the thieving furballs. Every once in a while there's a fox pacing through, sometimes a hoppy rabbit or a maundering dog, now and then a wild pig nosing around for acorns and earthworms.

Then a couple of dawns ago, just after I got up and went to check the snow level out the front windows, I saw the delicate tracks of a cat, of all things, that had paused in its travels through the night blizzard to look in at the big glass doors at the front of the house. Perhaps it had lived with humans once. While wandering the dark Siberian world the cat had leaped up onto the deck, walked along the front wall and stopped there, with snow blowing under its fur, to look into the darkness of the house and remember as we slept.

Yesterday morning, before getting a day's wood from one of the stacks, while checking the snow for the latest news I saw cat tracks in the deep snow, where the cat had emerged from the welcome snowlessness under a long stack of firewood. In traversing our land the cat was traveling from understack to understack, in between stacks bounding across the snow in giant leaps and minimal pinpointy-feet landings that said in silent invisible exclamation points: YEW!! YUCK!! YOW!! SNOW!! The tracks led at last to the snowless space beneath the shiitake logs and thence into the mountain bamboo. I know that cats in general hate snow: my neighbor's cats, for example, shudder at sight of the horrid white stuff outside the doors of their warm house; just a glance at it out the window makes them leap to loll under the kotatsu all day. But this also snow-hating cat was living in the stuff, even during the night!

As I loaded up with firewood I wondered what cat it might be that is out here at night in such storms; I couldn't recall an eccentric wandering feline; any self-respecting cat around here that has a human pet will be in the house at night sleeping next to the warmest thing available... Oh yeah-- there was that cat I saw hanging around the Baron one day in early autumn, when the big antlered guy was browsing on the compost pile; the black and white cat came up slowly, the way cats generally approach feral animals fifty times their size. The cat got within a meter or so of the white-tailed noble, the Baron lifting his head now and then to assess this mite entering his field of vision, but he kept on munching as the cat settled nearby. For a long time they just checked each other out, the Baron dining and the cat sitting and watching the big buck eat, till I as a gardening human house owner had some task to do.

There can't be one cat that watches bucks eat from close-up and another cat that wanders in snow at night and knows what windows are. Must be the same eccentric cat, out there in the night.

That's the wild news for this morning.


Kalei's Best Friend said...

Did u happen to hear that California got hit w/snow last week? lasted for a day on the ground and 2 days on the surrounding mountains.. speaking of cats, I took mine out as the snow fell, she clung to me like white on rice... similar to those cartoon cats that have had the bejesus scared out of them... We had 'fluff' as a friend said...

Maggie said...

Do keep us posted. :)