Zip the Drapeline

by +CrystalThieringer    @cdthieringer

DSC01607We had a record snowstorm last week, 52ish cm in twelve hours or so. As I watched the snow pile up, I found myself wishing I’d arranged for the bird feeders to be refilled before the storm came. He’ll do almost anything for me, but asking my husband to dig through waist-high snow because nuthatches keep me entertained is unfair. There was enough digging to do just to get a pathway cleared to the door, never mind getting the car into the garage.

The next day, I made a temporary feeder for the chickadees and juncos by slathering unsalted peanut butter on a toilet paper tube, which I then covered in bird seed. There is a lovely tree by the picture window I could reach, and I slid the tube over a branch. Simple, right? At least I could watch the littlest birds from my reading chair, in anticipation of the squirrels stealing the entire feeder away.

How different this day was from the one we’d just had. Where the snow day had been muted and grey, the bright blue of the cloudless sky reflecting against the mass of white snow now almost blinded me. My living room flooded with warm, magical light.

I settled into my reading chair, a mug of spiced orange tea within reach and turned on a classical piano playlist. At the window, aDSC01727 chickadee settled on my new feeder and after watching for a moment, I did as I often do, and went to fetch my camera. This was a perfect morning. Eventually, I lost myself contentedly in a cookbook I’d received as a Christmas gift.

Without warning, the right-hand panel of the drapes moved six inches on its own accord, though there was a crash and a strangled sound to go with it. I was too stunned to react at first. And then it happened again.

To quote an entertaining friend of mine, “What the what?”

I cautiously left my chair and moved towards the window, peeking around the sofa. Odd how moments like these bring to mind the weirdest things. Just then, I recalled a lunchtime conversation about people and dogs disappearing in Florida because alligators jump up and eat them.

That’s why I’ll admit to yelling when a blur of fur appeared before my eyes, as the left-hand drape flung itself toward the wall.

“Sydney! No!”

It was, of course, too late.

My cat was already ziplining on the drapes. She paid no attention to me, whatsoever. The route to the wall is short, and she leapt down and geared up for another concussion-inviting run for the other side.


DSC01724She stopped mid-stride, one ear angled to my voice before letting her eyes follow the flit of a shadow again. Her head jerked. I called her name. Turning around in a tight circle, Sydney settled her back against the window. She lifted her chin towards the curtain rod, and flicked her tail hard enough to rustle the edge of the drape.

Behind her, the chickadees I had attracted with my toilet roll feeder were rollicking, flitting from one branch to the other. The combination of sun and very-high snow bank reflected their pantomime against the back of my drapes perfectly.

Even though I was standing right there, Sydney jumped. Her claws dug into the fabric of the curtains and she held on. The force of it all slammed the improvised zipline towards the wall again. Sydney tumbled to the floor once more, controlling the speed of her descent somehow. I grabbed her and she immediately pulled herself into a tight ball. Sydney tucked her head into her chest as she always does, awaiting a blow I’ve not once given her.

Sydney hadn’t been jumping the drapes for the fun of it (though who knows, she may have found a new thrill-ride).

She was stalking the shadows, risking it all for something she’d realized wasn’t on the approved list of behaviours. When caught outright she hoped that by hiding her face, no one–especially her master–would notice.

The thought I can’t seem to shake this week, is how often I have done exactly the same thing.




14 thoughts on “Zip the Drapeline

  1. This is so well done, Crystal. I could feel myself in your chair and smell the tea, but I also wanted to be Syd, zip lining indoors. Hiding and hoping no one will notice all the instances when I should have or shouldn’t have is a behavior I’ve perfected. Mostly, I was taken by the idea of a life stalking the shadows. Wow! Well said.

    1. Thank you, Whitney. I’m not sure stalking shadows is the best thing–that’s what I’ve been wondering about. I think we all do it to some degree at least.

  2. OMG! It sounds like such a fun ride, though! Lol! Naughty kitty, but in secretly jealous. 🙂 However, the point of the tale is well-taken–chasing shadows, hiding one’s face, risking it all for something that’s not approved…I get it, though.

    1. She didn’t seem to be having fun, truthfully–though it was hard not to laugh at her. You know how cats like to chase laser lights? She’ll do that for a time, but she’s too smart for them. She was not too smart for this.

  3. Your title drew me right in, and once again I was lulled into your story by your wonderful, descriptive writing.

    ” Where the snow day had been muted and grey, the bright blue of the cloudless sky reflecting against the mass of white snow now almost blinded me. My living room flooded with warm, magical light.”

    I see it, as I can see any scene you describe with such wonderful attention to details.

  4. Your writing is beautiful and I was truly captured by the entire story. You have a wonderful way of describing things that helps the reader visualize. Chasing shadows, quite thought provoking and at the same time fun. Thanks so much for sharing. I thoroughly enjoy your blogs.

    1. Thank you Via. There will be no shadow chasing today–we have freezing rain and snow all day, which is allowing both cats and I the chance to sit and reflect. Although…it’s hard to remember I have work to do when I’m pinned to the chair by my friendly felines.

  5. I’m died reading this and had to read it twice. I love the images–visual and descriptive–and the idea of the cat using the drapes as a zip line is simultaneously awesome and terrifying. As a shadow chaser myself, I feel her pain. She’s a lucky girl that the blow she expected never came/would never come from you because anything riding the drapes can expect real trouble! A beautiful and amusing read. Love the descriptions, too, of the chickadees.

    1. It’s an equally bright and sunny day today–though with a little less snow. I’ve resisted my temptation to entice the birds to my window, and have done all I can to distract Sydney. She is currently curled up in her basket. The shadows wait for another day!

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