Did I tell you there is a forest in my backyard? Behind my fence are twenty-two acres of typical northwest woods with mature Douglas firs, majestic old maples and trails through brush frequented by dogs and their walkers. They form a wonderful backdrop to my yard and permeate everything with fragrance.
Many birds and small mammals call these woods home. There are chickadees, sparrows, wrens, hummingbirds, flickers and jays and juncos. I’ve heard the great horned owl hooting deep in the night and seen the pileated woodpecker stop by for a drink during the day. And then there are the rabbits, and raccoon, and deer.
Not only animals, but young men also play in the forest. I ran wide eyed for cover the first time I saw them rush by in army fatigues. I heard of them later at the hearing where we gathered to fight for the woods. You see, those twenty-two acres have been sold. To a developer. We tried to explain what a loss it would be to the city and neighborhood and to the birds and animals who live there. How the woods should be kept just because. Because they can never be replaced. Because deer feed there without fear. Because woodpeckers build homes inside standing snags. Because boys run and build forts and play army.
Stand near them, walk through them and you will know why.
But we did not prevail. I did not expect we would. They have promised to keep a buffer of trees around the perimeter. We hope they keep their promise. And we hope the trees in the buffer zone are strong enough to stand without their many companions who must come down to make way for the houses.
We have not yet heard the trucks rolling in or the chainsaws doing their deed. We will continue to enjoy this forest in our backyard until we do.
This happened some years ago after we’d first arrived at our new home. I was relaxing on Sue’s desk and had just finished cleaning my toes under the fading light of winter sun….
when I felt a strange tingling in my neck and had the sense I was being watched. I turned around and saw black eyes peering at me through the window.
I was not afraid, no not me, but Sue came unglued and started yelling, “Bob! There’s a raccoon on our roof!”
The next thing you know Bob’s pumping up the BB gun, running outside and firing away to scare off that old bandit. I must admit it took me quite awhile to settle down after all the commotion but settle down I did and I choose to have a short memory about such things.
So there really were raccoons. It made me wonder what else was out there. You see, up till then we’d always been “indoor cats.” I even hate the name, no offense to the rest of the kingdom. In all of our previous lives, we were never allowed to go outside – no, not even a short walk in a fenced yard. Never allowed to hunt in the wild like our ancestors did or jump high in the air to grab one of those winged creatures. Just playing you understand. We mean no harm. Instead we had to content ourselves with the stray spider in the house, the slow moving housefly or worse yet, chittering away through windows at crows and squirrels who would come by and taunt us.
Well, I thought, this raccoon may set back our efforts to ever go outside. Still, we vowed to continue working on it until we could wear them down. Day by day, we would stand by the sliding glass door and cry pitifully and with sad eyes. And we made promises to stay inside the fence and to always come in at night when called. (Yeah, uh-huh.) And as the days grew longer and the sun grew brighter and the squirrels began running frantically to and fro, begging us to come out and play, Bob and Sue FINALLY opened the door. And for that we will always be grateful.
Our sweet Joey had died unexpectedly at the age of four. (Who knew cats died of heart failure?) I was still hurting when I learned about two cats who needed a home. They were ordinary cats their former mistress had told me, but sweet. Not really lap cats, but loving. She was boarding them at a cat hotel since she couldn’t keep them and didn’t want to take them someplace where they might be separated. Would we at least go see them? Their names were Miracle and Brother Love.
Oh! I said and smiled. Although we had wanted kittens we decided to go visit the boys and be open. After we were escorted back to their quarters Miracle was the first to greet us. He jumped down from his condo, stretched out long and lean at our feet and looked at us with gorgeous eyes, inviting us to pet him. We did. We were hooked. Brother Love on the other hand, had tucked himself as far as possible into a rolled up piece of carpet so only his long gray tail could be seen sticking out. This one might have issues, I thought. But that cat with the green talking eyes! Yes, we would give it a try. We’re so glad we did. ~ Susanne
This is the first installment of our new blog and I appreciate Sue for letting me have the first few words. As you can tell by my picture I am a handsome fellow.
That’s why she picked me out of the line up at the cat jail. Okay, so it really wasn’t a jail. They called it a cat hotel (without check out privileges I guess you could say.) Either way, it was my green eyes that saved me and my brother Shadow from spending the rest of our lives there. Only I wasn’t Tiger then, I was Miracle. And Shadow was Brother Love (I kid you not.)
Bob and Sue were so kind to rescue us from our sheltered life and let us live with them in a nice big house, surrounded by luscious trees and thick forest with lots of little critters (who don’t stand a chance, by the way.) I will let her tell you about all the other wonderful things outside our home like the little framed plots containing lavender and rosemary and strawberries and roses and clematis and vegetables and… oh the list goes on and on and it is her job to tell you.
As for me, this was only to be an introduction and I have said enough and am tired and ready for one of my many afternoon naps. Talk later. ~ Tiger