Thursday, October 23, 2008

Christmas Kittens

Back in 1990 when I met my husband, I knew in my heart that I had found the right man to spend the rest of my life with. Although we are two very different people, the old adage holds true... opposites do attract because we have very similar feelings and beliefs about life. It didn't take much time at all for me to see the sensitive side of my husband. And that's ultimately what brought us to now; married 10 years, proud parents of two wonderful sons, a house in the suburbs, and one happy barn cat.

I'll never forget the first time my husband demonstrated his teddy bear personality... Back then I was a glamor puss who wore high heels, big hair and lots of bling. Hubby, on the other hand, was more down to earth, outdoorsy and simple. He invited me to go camping for the weekend with some of his friends in a remote part of northern New Hampshire. We drove there in dark during a torrential thunderstorm, which to me was somewhat romantic because I love storms of all kinds. Little did I know that this was actually a primitive camping trip, which meant no rustic cabin to nestle up in to listen to the rain, not to mention no running water, no bathroom and no shower. When we got there, Hubby pitched the tent all by himself, gathered firewood and built a roaring fire, all in the still pouring rain. He put my pretty pumps by the fire to dry while he got the bedding ready to snuggle in. The next day was gorgeous and we fished & swam in the crystal clear lake all day. That night the sky was lit up by a blanket of twinkling stars and we laid on the dock talking for hours. This was my first sign that I had found Mr. Right.

Then he saved an animal's life. We were driving down the road toward his family's lakefront property. (Now, don't get all green with envy... it's merely a piece of land on the lake; no house, no cabin, no lodge, no outhouse either! Just land, but still a treasured plot right on the lake.) Anyway, I was reading (something I have always done in the car) and all of a sudden the car veers sharply toward the ditch. Then it stops and Hubby gets out. When he returns, I ask him what happened. "There was a turtle crossing the road; I just helped it along..." This is typical Hubby behavior. In fact last Saturday he swerved to miss hitting a woolly bear caterpillar!

In 1993, we found the perfect little place in the country to call our own. Only we decided a week later that, despite having all the comforts of home, we were still missing something. The hunt was on. With his blessing, I searched the classified & bulletin boards around town. Still nothing fit right. So the next day I went to the shelter and there it was! A perfect black & white ball of fuzz named Fax. Yet they wouldn't me take her. I was crushed and told Hubby through a river of tears how perfectly Fax would have fit in our nest. Well apparently God had other plans for us, because we eventually brought home Vernie, then his beautiful half-sister Chloe.

As it turned out Vernie was our problem child, an adorable black furball with claws! Chloe was a gorgeous Maine Coon sweetheart who we nicknamed Brat Pea because she was so reluctant to ever be seen. Vernie was always willing to be around you, but you could NEVER pick him up without risking life & limb. Chloe never wanted to be in the limelight, much less your lap, but always allowed you to cuddle & caress her. The boys absolutely adored her! She was the love of their lives. This patient plump feline was the pride & joy of our family. She would lessen any bump, bruise or heartache any of us, especially the boys, ever felt.

Sadly Vernie died last summer. But the loss really resurrected Chloe. She seemed to come out of the shadows and often strutted queenly around the house, (but only when the kids were gone... she was still pretty leary of them) flicking her tail flirtatiously, begging us for attention. Words cannot adequately describe the spell Chloe cast upon all of us. We were fully & completely mesmerized by her. She was special. One of a kind. An unforgettable gift. We knew she would live forever because nothing could ever take her away from us. Nothing!

Yet we were wrong. One day this summer, I picked her up to nuzzle her adorable face and listen to her motor run. But something was different; she was skinny! She used to be a fat 13 pound ball of fluff, now she was only about half that. I called the vet to have her checked out. The news was good; she was just a healthy old lady who needed to be handled with extra care. So we changed her food, gave her vitamins, and loved her more tenderly. Despite all that, she began to loose the sparkle in her eye. And so I called the vet again, but this time I made the ultimate sacrifice, the only humane thing that was left to do. I made the appointment to have her put down. I have never lost someone in my life that I loved so unconditionally. Yes, she was a pet. But to us she was our daughter, our sister, our beloved cure-all. It's been hard on the boys. They miss her fiercely, as do my husband & I! Not a day goes by that either Hubby or me don't wish that she was curled up snugly in her favorite chair by the woodstove, waiting for one of us to caress her gorgeous coat then wait for her beautiful song to pierce the soft silence.

We understand that we will never ever be able to replace our precious little bratty girl, yet we want the boys to again experience the unconditional love that pets bestow on their owners. This time, we are hoping to introduce a kitten into our family, so that the boys can grow up with a little lovebug from infancy. We'd like to start the process now so that, by Christmas, everything will proceed smoothly without delay. So we ask that you pray for us... that we will find the perfect Christmas angel for our empty nest.

I've been incessantly searching the papers, the internet and the shelters for the perfect kitten but have yet had my heart flutter with the butterflies one feels when they experience love at first sight. I'll know when I lay eyes on her that the time is right, that our hearts are truly ready, that this is the one Chloe sent from heaven to fill the void she left behind.

Christmas is such a magical time, one that evokes undying memories of special times & perfect presents. I work very hard to create a wonderment of charm and excitment when it comes to Christmas. And this year I truly have my work cut out for me. Yet I have decided to succumb to the will of God. If it is meant to be, He will deliver. And something tells me that she will be bursting with comfort & joy!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Autumn in the North Country

These are the days that I wish that time would stand still. I feel completely blessed when I look out my window to see the fabulous blaze of color that graces my world. Every maple & aspen tree for miles is bursting with the rich colors of crimson, amber, scarlet, bronze & ginger, dotted with just a hint of green. Above all of this triumphs the magnificent Harvest Moon, mesmerizing the earth with it's magical power, surrounded by a glittering sea of stars.

The gift of sight is something we all take for granted until we experience the glory of nature, whether it's the fall foliage or a litter of fuzzy kittens, or a gorgeous magenta sunset over the water, or a blanket of virgin snow glistening under a crystal clear ocean of sky. Of all of the sense I have been born with, it's the gift of sight that I know that I would miss the most. Yet hearing my favorite music or even my sons whispering "I love you, Mom" in my ear would be tough to let go of, not to mention the smell of freshly cut grass or homemade apple crisp. I do know that I could remember what it feels like to cuddle & kiss my loved ones; and I absolutely know that I could live comfortably without tasting another piece of chocolate or homemade bread. But sight is so precious, so vivid!

Close your eyes and think of the things that bring beautiful images into clear view. For me it's the seasons... which explains why I live in the North.

We often experience a long snowy winter, everything covered with a frosty white coat of lacy snowflakes & glassy icicles. People huddle beside the fire, sipping steamy mugs of hot chocolate after a day of skiing, skating, sledding, or youth hockey tournaments. The Christmas holiday enhances our sense of hope, love & charity, as we deck the halls with evergreens, twinkling lights and treasured ornaments. Christmas fades into the excitement of ringing in the New Year, followed quickly by the romance of Valentine's Day and finally the merriment of St Paddy's Day.

Then Spring blossoms slowly into life, bringing a rainbow of breathtaking colors to herald the rebirth of all living things: pretty leaf buds, chubby bluebirds & robins, bright yellow daffodils & shiny red tulips. Birds sing in cheerful symphonies as they hurry to make cozy nests for their brood of fluffy chicks.

Eventually the warmth of Summer overtakes us, with our flags of freedom waving from every porch decked out with hanging baskets of petunias & ivy. Every garden beams with the kaleidoscopic flair of a crayon box, begging us to grace every empty vase with their dazzling color. Adirondack chairs and rope hammocks beckon the weary weekend warrior to take comfort in their lap. Docks lay in wait for children to bound, at full speed, down their beaten planks to make a huge splash in the cool clear lakewater below. Rivers ripple as lines are cast by anglers hoping to reel in the "Big One" that got away last season.

Finally Autumn envelopes us with its trumpet of south flying geese and shock of rich color. The time has come to ready ourselves for the harvest, to batten down the hatches and prepare for the long, often hard, winter that lays ahead. Monarch butterflies flutter gracefully across meadows sprinkled with wild asters, sipping enough nectar to fuel their long flight to Mexico. Corn stalks wave in the chilly breeze as the tractor hums ominously in the distance. Pumpkins adorn every doorstep surrounded by silly scarecrows and pots filled with plump mums. This is the season for soccer & football, jumping in leaves, picking apples, carving pumpkins, and breaking out the crockpots & wool socks.

Autumn in the North Country is an exquisite and enchanting season, one that I favor and one that will forever behold the most precious times in my life; the birth of both of my sons. Happy Birthday, boys. May your lives be enriched by the glory of the harvest and all that life has to offers.

Pursue your dream

Pursue your dream
Never underestimate the power of positive thinking.