We 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, a 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.
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.
She 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.