One of the stray cats that I’ve semi-adopted (as far as feeding and petting goes) must be in heat, because she has two toms harassing her. The female is a puny thing, about three-quarters size compared to most cats around here, and she has at least one screw loose in her head. The toms are, if I might say so, not stellar specimens either. The steely gray one is oddly built, with an oversize head, too many toes, odd proportions, a tail that seems a bit ratlike, and on top of that he’s so old he moves slowly and stiffly. (We’re pretty sure he fathered last year’s sole kitten, which, as it happens, has turned out to be a classy-looking cat, one of the most handsome around. Go figure.) The other tom is a black cat, also a bit old, but not as elderly, that has wheezed and sneezed his way through the two or three years I’ve known him. (‘Survival of the fittest’, I’ve found, is more common in textbooks than in real life.)
At any rate, this weekend I decided to try to make the gray tom hungry enough to at least go somewhere else for a while (a person can dream of a yowl-less life, can’t she?), so when I fed the cats I took a cup of hot tea with me, and sat on the back porch while the inner circle ate. (The inner circle includes the black tom. When he first showed up in our back yard, he was half dead and three quarters starved, and eyed me with with a look that suggested that he expected me to kick him but he didn’t care, because he was past caring. I made it a project to teach him that not all people are monsters. We are now quite the friends, thank you very much.)
It was a warmish day, for this time of year, and I sallied forth to guard duty without a coat. As I sat on the deck, and drank my tea, a few things became apparent. One was that it wasn’t quite warm enough to be sitting out there in a sweatshirt but no jacket. Another was that, without doubt, my allergies to cats are getting more severe. When the cats decided to abandon eating to come rub against me, I got up to walk around the yard. To my surprise, the apple tree has hints of ragged pale green on some tips. It’s not what I would call buds, but it’s getting there.
Some robins came by, and the air was alive with birdsong from all quarters.
We sometimes have one or two robins in deep winter, but there have been more coming in lately, to where they are a daily sight. The birdsong has changed over the last few weeks, too. In winter, I hear mostly bird calls of the ‘I’m here, where are you?’ variety, and other such utilitarian messages, with the occasional scold at predators. Now, mixed in with those, sometimes drowning them out, are actual songs, from birds of many types declaring that they’re just busting out with life.
The air, although it hardly smells like spring, no longer smells entirely of winter.
Yay! Not that I don’t like winter, but I am ready for spring. It’s a few weeks off yet, I know, but there are signs it’s moving closer, which is good enough for me, for February. (I know February is shorter than other months, and I know the days are getting longer, but it doesn’t generally feel that way. The trees have been bare too long, or something, and the skies too gray, or something.)