it is NOT Cold

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At this time of year, the big challenge of living off-grid in an earth-sheltered (read: 3 feet of insulation on 3 sides) is to remind yourself 69 on the thermostat would be T-shirt weather if it were describing the temperature outdoors, but when the only thing reflecting light back at you as you let the cat in at 5AM for his morning nap is the frost coating the world outside your door, it’s hard to remember that it’s too early in the year to light a fire. 



He really is a pussycat in the morning.  When I go to my study at 5 AM, we usually play a game of ‘who gets the chair’ until he resigns himself to sitting on my desk, overseeing the writing.  Occasionally, he’ll put a gentle paw on my hand when he thinks a word or phrase is wrong.

The sun is up now, and he’s taking his place on the woodpile as the guardian of the house – Katy the wonder dog is better at announcing burglars than stopping them.  But, as I walk back from the car after my morning chauffeur duties, he fixes me with a stern gaze, warning me to keep his safe secret from the other critters that will pass through our yard today.


Colder weather only drives them indoors a little earlier in the day.  There’s nothing, however, like the first snow to bring our furrier family members completely back into the fold.

It was the damp and not the cold that ushered all of them in at once this morning.  The dog’s demeanor was that of one who is happy to be at theme after a morning constitutional.  The cats, on the other hand, are company; every action calculated to communicate their hegemony over the rest of the household.  And, for some reason I still can’t discern, this bestial ballet always inspires questions about the existences we might have known before.

Watching the cats saunter lazily to the kitchen, staring down the dog at her own food dish, I often think how glad I am that I’m bigger than they.  I know there are many homeless cats with piteously short and hungry lives.  But as I kneel down to clean up the magazines unceremoniously shoved off the console by one of our now-lounging felines, I wonder what act of heroism a human would have had to perform to achieve the rank of “house cat” in their next existence.