Recently, over lunch with friends, I shared my good news of yet another pet story published by Chicken Soup for the Soul. They were all excited and supportive. And one dear friend made this comment. "You know, Carole, I think there's a message there for you. You should be writing more about animals." She was right. So, when I'm not working on my latest book project, Twenty-Five Hail Marys, A Spiritual Adventure with Dusty Quinn, I'll post some laughs and lessons here.
In this Cottonseed Journal (Cottonseed was my childhood nickname) I share the learning and growing, the memorable teaching moments I've experienced in the company of critters. I hope the stories influence and promote positive, caring animal/human interactions.
Over the course of the next few days, we became a functioning pack. Sunny, who loved food almost as much as he loved me, was given the first piece of bagel. Little Brodie waited his turn. Brodie, who loved play more than anything, got first pick of new toys. Sunny happily claimed the remains. Brodie's day required at least one mad run from room to room. During the dash, Sunny retired to the safety of the couch and I played an Enya CD. Sunny's needs included ear stroking from all visitors and naps in sunbeams. To accommodate, Brodie moved in behind Sunny waiting his turn for pats and slept in the thinnest portion of sunlight.
BECAUSE SHE'S A CAT
Her body packed with leaves and dirt
she deposits same on my brand new shirt.
A bowl of fresh food ready to nibble
she sidles on by and eats the dog's kibble.
Hissing if my strokes are too great
loud purring alarm should I sleep too late.
Yowling for help from the tallest pine
til I haul out the ladder and she climbs down fine.
To curl in my arms rubbing this way and that
knowing I love her just because she's a cat.
I am an aging woman. Well all of us are aging, but I’ve just recently started paying attention to being part of the group. I’ve been a young thinker my whole life and thanks in part to genetics look a bit younger than my years. Not that these things are bad, it’s just that owning up to the aging process is a new concept for me.
A CAT AND A COLONOSCOPY
IN THE GRASS BY THE SEA
I poured my cup of coffee and meandered out on the deck to enjoy the sounds and aromas of a late spring morning. The air was rich with lilac and mint and rosemary. Mourning doves were cooing. As I took my first sip of coffee, in my periphery there was movement along the fence line to my right. I turned, happily expecting to see the usual munching menagerie - fat bunnies, female deer with their sweet spotted babies, the occasional handsome buck. When I moved closer, my joy turned to horror. Stuck on top of the fence wedged in between two pickets was a frightened, frantically flailing, traumatized fawn.
Weeping, I phoned the police. Husband Jim heard the call and rushed upstairs and out onto the deck. Sobbing uncontrollably, unable to speak, I pointed and Jim acted. He shoved a sturdy lawn chair under her head then went around to her legs. She froze in terror and he was able to grab her back legs and shove her through the fence, the lawn chair breaking her fall. By this time the police had arrived and our injured fawn had flopped onto the ground where she lay motionless. The officer donned heavy gloves and inspected her little body. "Except for that cut on her side, she doesn't look badly hurt, but she's pretty scared," he said. "Let's stand back and give her some space. She'll either recover or she won't." I held my breath. Our little girl raised her head. Soon, she stood on wobbly legs. And then she bolted off into the trees. "She may just make it," said the cop. "But you can never be sure." I glanced over to the trees. Right at the very edge stood a large female deer. Her trusting, brown eyes looked straight into me before she disappeared into the foliage. And given my writer's imagination I decided it was Mama and I was sure, like any mom, she was grateful we helped her baby. Made me think of the universal connection of all lives, the vulnerability we share, the help we're all capable of offering. Standing there in the sunrise, barefoot in ratty pajamas, I was crying again.
Back out on the deck about a week later I saw several full-grown does munching our apples. They had three smaller fawns in tow. One of them had a healing wound on her side. She looked up when she saw me, our eyes connecting for just a second before her clean leap over the fence. And in that magnificent moment there was the feel of oneness with all living beings and a reminder to live each day with unconditional love, joy and happiness, deep gratitude.
02/24/2020 After a much needed hiatus, I'm writing again. I've started a new book project. I'm finding it a little tough to write, but with every new paragraph I grow some spiritually. Thank you Dusty Quinn.
I grew up Catholic. I was taught by scary nuns who held the crucifix dangling from their habits in one hand and a yardstick in the other. And Monsignor O’Connor was always lurking about reminding five-year-olds that they’d die in their sleep if prayers were skipped. I received First Communion when I was seven. From there on, going to confession on Saturday in preparation for communion on Sunday was a given. This ritual caused me much angst. I was a child with little in the way of sin to confess, so I’d kneel in the dark, curtained booth, look at the shadowy form of Father so and so, and lie.