Saturday, December 20, 2008

It's cold here in New Hampshire

Misty and Benji huddled under the sofa in the living room. It was bad enough that the outside was still breaking, but the indoors wasn’t much better. It was still dark all the time, and the only warm room in the house was the kitchen, and it had been invaded by a dog. Right before the storm, the Growly Man had brought home a German Shepherd. It was big and liked to sleep near the stove, right where their food bowls used to be kept. The Lovely Lady moved them a bit, or made sure that dog wasn’t around when they were fed.

Krishna sauntered into the living room saying, “Where are you, kittens? I know you’re in here.”

Misty answered from under the sofa. “We’re under here. The dog can’t get at us if we’re under here, and it’s too cold to go outside. I’m starting to think that maybe we should have found a different home. It’s cold and dark and now we’ve been invaded by a dog that doesn’t even speak English.”

“Well, you’re right about the dog. I’ve never met a dog that I couldn’t communicate with before. I thought that all dogs spoke the same language as us cats, but this one sure doesn’t. I heard the Lovely Lady talking to the Growly Man, and he said that the dog speaks germ. That makes no sense to me. I know what germs are. They’re little tiny things we can’t see that make people or animals sick. Why would a dog want to talk to germs?”

Misty and Benji didn’t have a clue about that, but they had heard the Growly Man say that the dog had come from a breeder and that she was tired, or something like that. “Maybe the germs are what made her tired, and so she learned to speak germ to get them to leave her alone? You seem to get along okay with her, Krishna. How do you do it?”

“Oh, I just gave her a swat or two on the nose when she growled at me. A growl is a growl, no matter what language you speak. Actually, I think she may be nice, for a dog, but it’s hard to tell, since we don’t share a language. I’ve started to try to teach her some English, but it’s slow going.” In fact, Krishna had been doing a lot of talking to the dog, pointing out things and telling her the word for them. She’d push something off the table and then say the word for it. It had taken a couple of tries for the dog to figure out what she was doing, but now she seemed to be picking up the words fairly quickly. If only she was a cat, Krishna would get out a book and they could sit together and look at pictures together and learn that way. The dog seemed nice, but Krishna wasn’t ready to snuggle down on the floor with a new dog.

“Krishna, why is so dark in here all the time now? It wasn’t like this before.” Benji poked his head out from under the sofa. It was safe to come out, since Krishna was there to protect them.

“Well, the electricity still isn’t working. That’s what makes the lights work. The ice storm knocked down the power lines, and they haven’t been repaired yet. I heard the Growly Man talking on the phone to someone and he said that there were hundreds of people trying to fix all the power lines around here. It’s been a week and they still haven’t been able to fix them all. Lovely Lady was worried last night that the pipes from the well might freeze, and then there wouldn’t be any running water until someone came and thawed out the pipes with a blowtorch, or even until spring. The Growly Man has been bringing water from the outflow from the pond every day to use for the toilets. It’s a lot of work. He even has to go and get wood to keep the stove going so they don’t freeze themselves. People don’t have good fur like we do to keep them warm in the winter. They need clothes and heat, or they freeze. I’m not sure what that means, but it has something to do with being very cold, and I know it’s not good.”

Misty peeked out from the couch. “Wow, I’m glad I’m a cat. My fur keeps me pretty warm, even if we’re out in the shed. I can fluff it out, tuck my paws in and put my nose down, and if I’m not toasty warm, I’m at least not too cold. The Growly Man has been wearing his big heavy sweater every day, and sometimes he’s even wrapped up in a blanket. Do you think we should be helping to keep them warm? When we snuggle together we stay warmer. Maybe if we sat on them, they’d be warmer.”

Krishna nodded. “I bet it would help. I know that they can make me warmer if I sit right next to them, so I bet we make them warmer too.”

Benji didn’t look too happy with this plan. “I don’t know, Misty. I’m still pretty shy with Growly Man and even with Lovely Lady. I’m not sure I’m ready to sit on their laps, or snuggle up with them.”

Misty looked at Benji steadily. “Lovely Lady has been taking care of us since the summer. She feeds us, and makes sure we have enough water and watches out for us. I think it’s time we stopped being selfish and did something for them. We can’t haul buckets of water, or bring in firewood. The only thing we can do is to help keep them warm. I know I’m going to try to do it. I’m still a bit skittish myself, but for Lovely Lady I’m going to try it. Tonight, when she gets home. Or, maybe tomorrow. But I’m going to do it.”

Benji looked quite crestfallen. He wasn’t really a selfish kitten, but this was going to be hard. He’d try, but he wasn’t sure he’d be able to do it. Krishna saw his indecision and came over and started to groom him. “Benji, you’ll do it when you’re ready. You can’t force a flower to bloom until it’s ready. You’ll do it when you can. In the meantime, let’s keep each other warm.” The three snuggled together on the loveseat, cradled in the blankets. Yes, it was dark and not awfully warm, but at least they had each other.

Photo Courtesy of Amy Mo-

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