I looked at the small kitten padding at high speed across the frozen surface of the snow and ice and pondered if I wanted to chase after her. I was sure that like usual, I would almost reach her, and she would dart out of my reach again until I was left gasping in the cold air, reaching for my rescue inhaler.
Still, it was only 18 degrees out and I didn’t want her running up a tree, getting stuck, and freezing to death.
Luckily, my son saw the crisis unfolding and swept Scout up before she could get very far.
Sadly, she escaped through the open door fifteen minutes later and darted away from my son, racing to the top of a smaller, naked tree in our backyard.
If you’re new to this blog, then you don’t know that this young cat, who I still call a kitten, has left us biting our nails many times because she has climbed tree after tree, sometimes unable to figure out how to climb down. She got herself so stuck one time, our neighbor contacted the town fire department, and they brought their ladder truck to rescue her.
My son and husband had to leave to drop off some groceries at my parents, so I said I’d watch the kitten and wait for her to come down. She eventually did come down and then somehow ran past me into the house, without me seeing her. I had shut the side door, shaking my head after I had watched her climb down from the tree, hoping she would run inside and when I stepped inside to shut the inside door I was surprised to see Scout sitting on the top step of our basement stairs. She must have run back inside when I wasn’t looking.
The bitter cold most likely chased her back inside, as it has been doing each time she’s escaped for the past six weeks or so.
Some winters bring our area snow and some cold. This year we have been plunged into a type of deep freeze as temperatures have been below freezing on more days in December and January than they have been above freezing.
These temps have not only stranded the humans inside, but also our outside cat, Pixel, and our want-to-be outside cat, Scout.
And if it hasn’t been the cold that has kept us inside, it has been the snow or ice covering our steep driveway. Right now our driveway is frozen under two-solid inches of ice and a small dusting of snow. Shoveling or snow blowing it is out of the question because of how solid the ice is. The ice storm that hit us Thursday has left some area businesses and churches closed because not even the commercial snow removal companies are able to rip up the ice without causing damage to their equipment.
Our outside cat is severely disappointed by the cold, one because we have been telling her it’s simply too cold for her to go out and then don’t let her go out and two, because she seems to expect a different outcome on the rare occasion we do allow her outside. For about three weeks now I’ve had to explain to her over and over how cold it is, but for some reason, she doesn’t seem to understand me. Hmmm..it’s almost like she’s a cat and not human.
So, she goes out into the cold and looks around her, bewildered each time. I close the door and five minutes later I find her looking into our kitchen window plaintively begging to come back in as if I have cruelly tossed her out into the cold.
She stays inside for about half an hour and then she’s back at the door scratching at the door frame trying to get our attention so she can go back out again. For a while, this was happening every 30 minutes or so. Then she finally seemed to get that it wasn’t going to get any warmer and the stretches of time between she wanted to outside got longer.
Then she eventually started to just curl up in a little ball on one of our couches or chairs or near the fire accepting that it was simply too cold to go out and explore and hunt for mice. You would think that she would forget about the outside after a while but that’s so far hasn’t happened. She is still itching to get out even when it is below freezing. Sunday she didn’t try to leave the house even once, instead making one of the recliners her bed.
The Boy and my husband’s trip to my parent’s came when my 78-year old dad called to tell me he had just taken a ride on a runner sled on the ice below his barn and it was the most frightened he’d ever been on a sled ride.
He’d gone out to test the sled because he said the ice would be perfect for sledding since there was no softer layer of snow under this snow, only solid layer upon layer of ice. He said this would make the ride exhilarating but also terrifying because a spill off the sled could mean a cut to the face if it hit the hard ice. To stop his ride, and keep himself from flying off into the woods several hundred yards away from the top of the hill, my dad had to slam the heals of his boots against the ice several times until they broke in enough to stop him.
He knows my son is a daredevil of sorts, so he invited him over to try a ride of his own.
My son took one ride on the sled and another ride without anything, simply sliding on his snow pants.
It was too cold to spend too much time outside since the thermometer stayed around 26 in the afternoon, dropping back to 21 in the evening. Based on what the weather app on my phone says (though it is often wrong) it looks like we will have some warmer weather later this week but it still won’t go up much above freezing.
This winter has been a little different since we have had more cold and less snow. In some ways, it feels like we have had snow but in fact, we only had one storm of about 7 inches and then it got so cold that the snow never melted. So, we have had snow on the ground around our house for about a month. It melted some the day before this latest ice storm came in but then the ice and a couple of inches of snow covered the ground again. I’m not complaining since I am used to Pennsylvania winters. If I was going to complain my only small complaint would be that I can’t get out of my steep driveway when it is icy and messy out so sometimes I am stranded for days at a time.
Opportunities for photographs are also reduced when the weather is bitter cold. When I do get outside, though, I’m grateful for the beauty winter often offers. Last week I snatched some photos of our ice-encased trees and bushes but spent as little time in the yard as possible since it was so cold.
My husband has to travel in the cold, sadly, and since he tolerates the cold better than I do he has attended a couple of events in the cold winter air for his job, including a horse-drawn sled race that was held a couple of weeks ago in our town. I would have gone but the high that day was eight and I do have a little bit of trouble breathing in the cold air thanks to asthma as a child and maybe my battle with You Know What two months ago. I had him send me a few of the photos from that event so I could share them here. Keep in mind that the temperature in these photos is 8 degrees. Eight degrees!
I am looking forward to spring and warmer weather but until then I will enjoy snuggling up in front of our woodstove with a cup of tea a good book and our dog Zooma.
Even though life can be a little mundane in the winter I enjoy the slow pace of it. In the spring and summer, I feel like I have to do things, or I should be out and about because the weather is nice. In the winter I am allowed the excuse of cold weather for keeping me in the house and keeping the pace slow and easy.
If only our cats could appreciate the slow and easy life of winter as much as I do.