My cat’s not a polar purrbox

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, January 13, 2010

My cat does not like the cold. I know this because his usual outside time is dramatically less these last few days.

When I open the door, he dashes out and sprints into the yard only to return in a few minutes, a blur of cream-colored fur shooting back to the warmth inside. He spends most of his day stretched out on a cushion in front of the window, alternating between napping and watching squirrels running around under the oak trees.

If cats could talk, I know what he is saying.

“I see you squirrel and if it wasn’t so darn cold, I’d take a run at catching you. But it is freezing so play on, I’m going back to sleep.”

I don’t dislike cold weather quite as much as the cat seems to. For the most part, winter is my favorite month. Perhaps I like it because it is interesting to see the changes that come to the landscape this time of year.

The view of the lake from my kitchen window is wider and more open with the trees bare of their leaves. I like seeing trees in winter, especially the ones that let go of all of their leaves. Their skeletons uncovered show wrinkled limbs reaching like arms toward heaven.

In fact, much of nature’s cover disappears with the freezing temperatures. Underbrush dies, crinkling into brown patches around shrubs and fence posts and across the open fields. Suddenly the rise and fall of the earth, the holes and hollows that hide beneath the weeds of late summer are there for all to see. It’s hard for things to hide in winter when Mother Nature strips away her covering and shows the world her hidden places.

That is another thing I like about this time of year. Like my cat, the cold forces me in to the warmth, inside to the silence of a chilly afternoon when places deep within call me to come explore what is so often hidden under the cover of busyness in other seasons.

When the air is icy and the earth is resting, it is easier to grant myself permission to sit quietly beside a fire contemplating, dreaming, imaging things I push into the background on days when spring calls me to come and play with her.

My cat is waking up, arching his back into a deep stretch preparing for another quick run outside before settling in for the evening. I open the door and he races toward the lake.

From my kitchen window, I watch the afternoon sun sending golden sparkles dancing across the water until it sinks slowly toward night, finally setting in a burst of fiery color that turns the whole world a most unusual shade of hot pink and glowing orange.

Outside, the temperature is falling as another hard freeze wraps itself around my house.

Glancing out the door, I see my pal is back, his fur puffed up against the cold making him look like a stuffed animal. I let him in and he joins me in the big chair curling up on the blanket draped over my legs.

My cat doesn’t like the cold. He likes my lap and my hand resting on his head. I leave it there, closing my eyes, hearing his rattling purr blending with the softness of my own breath as I sink into the silence of this late winter afternoon.