A Moment in My Life – Thursday, February 25, 2021
I minded my own business replying to a text at my dinner table when movement outside my patio distracted me. A well-fed gray-black cat ever so coolly struts by with nose in the air. I finished my text, then ran to the window, leaning my forehead up to the glass, turning my head in the direction the audacious critter went. My backyard isn’t huge, and the cat must have realized nothing interesting was going on and vacated the premises. It’s not every day we have visitors out back anymore. A part of me envisioned Tom Cool strutting past the window, then fleeing in a mad-dash just out of my view. Do cats have that kind of intelligence? Maybe I’m thinking cartoons.
We used to have a family of squirrels living in a tree out back. They were comfortable guests who kept to themselves, requiring low maintenance. They preferred self-service to our apple trees. They took privacy seriously. Many a time, when they caught me snooping, gave me the eye, letting me know I was invading their privacy by turning their backs to me while they ate. They would’ve been perfect guests if they picked up after themselves.
One day, we had a new family of birds squatting behind our bushes. We discovered them by spooking them. I don’t know who was more spooked, them or me. We went out to work in the yard when the large mama bird flew out of the bushes right past me, eliciting a scream out of me. She flew back periodically and perched on the fence a safe distance from us. Why was she lurking? She seemed anxious, making me nervous. We peeked behind the bush where she flew out from and got our answer—she was protective of her nest of baby birds.
Our most prized visitor was a little nest of hummingbirds. We named mama Woodstock. Woodstock was tending to her tiny nest perched on the tree outside our kitchen window for three joyous weeks. After the babies entered the world, they relocated. The new family remained in our backyard but being so small, the trees camouflaged them. I thought they moved away, but one day, the kids got into a brawl and flew out into the open space, bickering when Woodstock flew out and restored order in a tone only birds understand.
All of our guests preferred to keep it professional. They came. They stayed. They minded their own business and expected us to do the same. Then, they left. Like Mark would say, “There’s always one in every crowd,” and that saying rang true when one day, there was a beautiful caramel-colored cat who visited a few times but never stayed long. One afternoon, I was making my first pot of lentil soup. It got warm inside. I opened the patio door a crack to cool down my kitchen, not realizing the cat was outside. Not until she squeezed in through the slightly ajar patio door. By the time we saw her, she had taken flight through the house. We ran after her as she took the scenic route. After she went on her merry way, we named our first critter guest “Lentils,” which seemed fitting.
Did I say none of our backyard guests were curious? Well, thanks to Lentils, I have to take that back. She was curious and took a tour. Once her curiosity was satisfied, Lentils was quite content remaining out in the guest quarters thereafter, but I have to admit that it was a fun day when Lentils came to visit.