Monday, February 6, 2012

February Blues

Invariably, February hits and suddenly, winter's started to get long.  There's no denying we're in the doldrums of the season.
I trekked out to the field beside the barn and emptied out the ash pail in my favorite spot, Cooper at my side.

We stopped to check out the coyote tracks:
All these exciting smells to take in!

We've had lots of freezing rain this season, and there's a nice thick, icy crust on the snow that makes walking difficult.  It's thick enough to support my weight, but every so often, I break through, giving my 40-odd year-old hips an unpleasant jolt.  Cross-country skiing or walking along the hedgerow is impossible.  Every year I keep threatening to buy snow shoes, but I'm not convinced it would be any easier in these conditions.

The saving grace of February is that the days are getting longer:
At this time of the year, the house casts a shadow on the side of the barn.  For some strange reason, this never ceases to amaze me.  I am also pleased to report the sun is setting past 5 PM now, and coupled with the fact February is our shortest month, the end of Winter is in sight.

Our Old Hag Schatzie isn't doing so well, and we've had too many discussions about just how numbered her days are.  Calling the shots where a nearly 27 year-old cat is concerned is hard - she has good days and bad days.  If I had the slightest inkling she was in pain, I'd call the vet to the house, but she's still an affectionate little velcro-cat who demands her food and continues to clean her snout on my right elbow as she settles in on the couch for another protracted nap.  Litter box accidents are now more of a rule than an exception, and it's not enough for me to justify ending her existence.  In the interim, I pet her little head, rub her under her chin, and her gratitude fills me.  She's the only living link we have with the past, and the last remaining vestige of Mr. Lefebure, and putting an end to her days would be premature, I think.

I've even kept the Christmas lights up (as I am wont to do), and still light them from time to time:

They'll probably (probably!) come down during our next big thaw - whenever that is - and when the opportunity to wash the windows presents itself again.

So, despite the snow, and freezing rain, and cold temperatures, we have longer days, clear skies and our little menagerie sitting by the fire, vying for the best spot.


Miriam said...

27 years old?!! Holy smokes. I can completely understand why you want to let her call the shots on what her future holds, and in the meantime love her up as much as you can. Good for you, and good for her!

I, for one, would like to leave our twinkly porch lights on all year. There is something so cheering and inviting about them shining out on a dark night. Plus, if we leave them up we don't have to go to the trouble of putting them up all over again next Christmas!

Shim Farm said...

Miriam, Schatzie's ancient. I always joke we're going to have her carbon-dated when she finally keels over. But this morning (despite another litter-box accident last night), she's beside me purring away, craning her little neck out so I can get to her sweet spot under her chin. I don't think her time is up quite yet.

I hear you on the twinkly porch lights - because of our prohibitive winds, I don't put lights up outside, but those stay up in the inside windows a good four months per year, much to Tessie's delight. She loves to bat them around.

Demelza said...

I cannot imagine a 27 year old cat. I bet she could tell some stories if she could talk! I'm sure you'll know the right thing to do when the time comes.

Thinking of you during the cold, dark days of February. The month I like the least in the year and always want to see March as soon as possible. Winter has finally arrived here but obviously it's nowhere near as cold as in your neck of the woods. The wood burning stove is doing a wonderful job of warming the whole house and I'm into full baking mode!

Shim Farm said...

Hi Demelza!

Schatzie's little bed is beside the wood stove as I write these words - she's the picture of utter contentment. I suppose the radiant heat must be doing her arthritic bones some good!

We've been saying she smells like death for about 3 years now, but she keeps surprising us. I pray that one day, she will fall asleep and not wake up. While that sounds cruel, I want her to go like she lived - essentially free of intervention.

I was baking today as well, it only makes sense at -20C, which is our forecast low for tonight. Hope the deep-freeze in Europe hasn't affected your area that much.

Thanks for your virtual visit!

Robin said...

I have been getting so excited about the longer daylight too. I love those lights you have up. There is some snow on the hills around us right now but nothing by our house. I can't imagine living with snow all winter. Brrr. I am still amazed that Schatzie is so freaking old. I keep thinking Lee's cat is going to kick the bucket all the time but I guess he could have another 10 years.

Shim Farm said...

Hi Robin, I know, I know, the longer days are great, aren't they? And I can't wait until we move our clocks forward in a week or so...bring it on is all I can say!

The lights come from Ikea, and I leave them up until Eric's birthday in mid-March. We have one last blow-out party for his b-day, and then they come down. I am in love with those lights!!

A bit of TMI on Schatzie: she peed out what looked like a tumour a while back when she wasn't doing so well. Since then, she's been having far less litter-box accidents, and she seems to be in much better shape. Just now, she was sleeping beside me, but with her eyes wide open. It scares the hell out of me, because I think the poor bugger's dead, but she's just sleeping. If she was a human being, she'd probably be in palliative care right now, but she keeps surprising us. I'm still praying that she falls asleep one day, terrible to say but true.

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