Our home is quiet as I sit in the semi dark late evening and make these words fall onto my document. Randy is sleeping and I hope he’s not dreaming about fields, flooding and farming.
My thoughts drift back to early this morning and I wonder how a cat called June is faring because the temperature has fallen below zero. June is one of our outdoor cats and she suffers from a condition simply called “Matting.” Every spring this former-feral cat emerges outdoors with her beautiful white fur knotted and clumped on her back creating a scruffy disheveled appearance. A mat is a tangled clump of hair that forms in a cat’s coat, usually if the cat is long-hair or has some ‘Persian” blood in its veins. Matting is a serious condition that includes the longer, outer hair of the cat, as well as the soft undercoat, twisting very close to the skin. Mats are uncomfortable and painful as they sit tight to the skin and pull the hair every time the animal moves. Mats are an especially tricky grooming issue to deal with. This wouldn’t happen if our cat, June would just let me brush her.
I was surprised this morning when she flopped down in front of me as I reached for her brush. After a quick touch of her fur, I realized it was beyond brushing. Before she could scatter I scooped her up with a very tight grip on the loose skin above her neck and carried her squirming and protesting into our home. Not an easy feat because a former-feral doesn’t like being held against its will and we had about the distance of two city blocks to span. Once inside, I quickly collected the equipment I’d need and the poor girl got a very careful, but hasty and crude haircut! I could see her irritated tender pink skin glowing underneath and knew just touching the large rock hard fur clumps was painful.
But tonight I think of Junie, resting comfy in her bed warmed by a heat lamp, knowing from her little perch in the old building she calls home – she is looking at the same moon as it reflects on the nearby creek.
It is almost Easter, the winter should be passed and it is time to get out of the cold mode: physically, emotionally and spiritually. It is time for me to shed the things that get under my skin; the things that ‘mat’ and knot my nerves.
Soon I will hear the deafening rush of water gushing eastward from under the highway bridge, over and onto its swollen bank and journeying to empty in the Quill Lakes. I picture myself standing at its shore and I attempt to identify the negative things that have been wintering in my soul. I want to toss in, and get rid of my icy, complaining spirit. I have particularly been beating myself up about weight gain, and the uncertainties of the coming farm year have been piling up heavy in my heart. Even if Randy and I have run out of ‘next years’ I know we will do what we have always done; land on our feet and move on. I hadn’t realized that the seemingly never-ending cold of winter had stolen my joy.
My cup of ‘Sleepy Time’ tea has become cold and that’s my cue to call it a day. The rest of the words will be finished in the light of day when the world and life always looks different. Often better. Getting ready for bed, suddenly I found myself humming the words to a song I have loved since the first time hearing it. I knew it wasn’t coincidence and the words played in my head as I fell asleep:
“Never settle for the path of least resistance, Living might mean taking chances
But they’re worth taking . . . Don’t let some hell bent heart
Leave you bitter – When you come close to selling out
Give the heavens above more than just a passing glance
And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance
I hope you dance . . “*
In the morning I had a kitty to thank for reminding me that negativity can mat and twist my thinking and I don’t want to enter spring with a scruffy and disheveled attitude and a compliCATED spirit. Even if I have to wear my rubber boots – I choose to dance!
(A reprint from April 2011. We sold our land several months after this writing and Junie passed away from hyperthyroidism five years later.
*I Hope You Dance, 2000: written by Mark D, Sanders and Tia Sillers, recorded by LeeAnn Womack with Sons of the Desert.)
Click on the words below to hear this lovely song.