The Big Branch

tortoiseshell cat on branch

Will you quit reminding me I'm 17 years old?

As the winter passes and spring slowly unfolds in the back yard I’m remembering the years Cookie and I spent out there. Browsing photos I often encounter photos of her, including these from March 8, 2010, as the snow slowly melted after a series of heavy storms in February. Even though I shoveled paths into the snow it was weeks before it melted down to the soil, and at 17 Cookie finally found that walking on snow for any length of time was just too uncomfortable on her tiny tortie paws and she would wait on the deck or the steps for me. For some reason I never wrote the post I had intended to with these photos, so there’s no time like the present.

tortoiseshell cat on path in snow

I guess it's mud or snow, but I have to get to my back yard.

One day enough snow had melted that she decided to follow me around as I filled bird feeders and Cookie explored her strange new world. The most exciting thing, for Cookie and me at least, was the large branch from a neighbor’s tree that had snapped under the weight of the first heavy snowfall (I was watching that night and saw it fall), landing just next to the picnic table and leaning up on the fence and another of the neighbor’s trees. I didn’t mind it, and they didn’t come out to clear it away, so it became, so far, a permanent part of our back yard.

tortoiseshell cat outdoors with snow

What happened to my garden?

One of the most amazing things I always found about Cookie was her fearless curiosity. There was something new, she explored it—a box in the house, my art materials, a visitor, Cookie immediately and wholeheartedly acquainted herself with it.

tortoiseshell cat sniffing stick

Must be spring!

Curiosity is legendarily a cat’s province, but a reason to consider this a little extra special in Cookie was that she always had difficulty walking just from weakness in her hind legs, likely from her early deprivation. Even when younger she couldn’t run or jump very high and while still young quit jumping altogether to climb step by step onto things. This never stopped her, and it didn’t even slow her down because she got herself everywhere she needed to go, and her ingenuity at finding a stepping stone path of different levels anywhere in the house to get anywhere she wanted to go is something I’ll always remember. She never complained, just happily made her way around things; as she grew older I surreptitiously added things she could step on in every room.

tortoiseshell cat on branch

Fearless Cookie climbs the branch less trodden.

So I look at her on this log at the age of 17 with fine balance but without a whole lot of strength in those legs. She walked down the muddy path in the snow, met the branch and happily stepped up on it and looked around, took a few more steps up and looked again, then walked out as far as she dared, then walked back. She was also wise in knowing exactly how far she could go, literally, and still be able to get herself safely back to where she needed to be.

tortoiseshell cat on branch

Wow, the view is really great from here!

The branch fell at just the right time because the previous year she had been able to pull herself up onto the picnic bench, but it was an increasing struggle. The first thing the next spring the branch had fallen and I guess she thought it had been provided for her. She used it from then until just a few days before she died to both sit on, scratch on and step up onto the bench.

tortie cat on branch

Cookie balances on her maiden voyage on the branch.

It’s just a tree branch, and I’m a cat. What’s the big deal? I’ll still be doing this years from now.

tortoiseshell cat on branch

Hi, mom!

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To see more daily photos go to “Daily Images” in the menu and choose “All Photos” or any other category.

All images used on this site are copyrighted to Bernadette E. Kazmarski unless otherwise noted and may not be used without my written permission. Please ask if you are interested in purchasing one as a print, or to use in a print or internet publication.


Al Fresco: From A Year Ago

tortoiseshell cat with weatherfish

Cookie communes once again with the weatherfish and pokes her nose on dry grass.

I’m not focusing on photos of Cookie from last year—she showed up about twice a week just because. This is pretty much what my yard looks like now, and Mimi and me have been exploring and remembering Cookie in all these places. Mimi still needs a leash, though; she stays right with me, then suddenly wants to take off to the front yard. We have to work on that.

Cookie communes with the weatherfish as we explore the backyard on an unusually warm, windy day.

tortoiseshell cat on deck

Cookie tells me to get a move on.

We’ve been going outside every day all winter long, but Cookie found the snow and ice just weren’t fun anymore on her 19-year-old paws, so we mostly stayed on the deck. But today we explored the yard in all its winter tatters.

Cookie knows I prefer her to wait for me to come with her into the yard, so she pauses at the top of the steps—but her expression is, “As soon as you turn around, I’m going to run down these steps.” She did. I followed. Sometimes my position of authority means nothing.

tortoiseshell cat on lap

Cookie on my lap on the steps.

But after a little sojourn including the weatherfish, under the deck, the fallen branch, picnic table and park bench, our favorite thing is just to sit together.

I’m so glad Cookie and I can share this time. She doesn’t move as well as she used to, but then all she needs to do is walk around the yard at her own pace. She and I also remember other friends who used to share our time in the backyard.

Plus it’s only February and the tomorrow weather will change and I know it will be a while before we get a day this nice again.

While Cookie and I were sitting on the steps, we were being very still so we could count the birds in our yard for the Great Backyard Bird Count, today, February 18, through Monday, February 22. I’ve been participating in this bird count and others for years, and tomorrow I’ll be writing about how to participate in bird counts and why it’s fun and important. (I actually wrote about this on Friday in It’s the Great Backyard Bird Count. Mimi and I counted today.)

Until then, curl up with your kitties as the temperature drops, and study your bird identification books!

________________________________

To see more daily photos go to “Daily Images” in the menu and choose “All Photos” or any other category.

All images used on this site are copyrighted to Bernadette E. Kazmarski unless otherwise noted and may not be used without my written permission. Please ask if you are interested in purchasing one as a print, or to use in a print or internet publication.


Al Fresco

tortoiseshell cat with weatherfish

Cookie communes once again with the weatherfish and pokes her nose on dry grass.

Cookie communes with the weatherfish as we explore the backyard on an unusually warm, windy day.

tortoiseshell cat on deck

Cookie tells me to get a move on.

We’ve been going outside every day all winter long, but Cookie found the snow and ice just weren’t fun anymore on her 19-year-old paws, so we mostly stayed on the deck. But today we explored the yard in all its winter tatters.

Cookie knows I prefer her to wait for me to come with her into the yard, so she pauses at the top of the steps—but her expression is, “As soon as you turn around, I’m going to run down these steps.” She did. I followed. Sometimes my position of authority means nothing.

tortoiseshell cat on lap

Cookie on my lap on the steps.

But after a little sojourn of the weatherfish, under the deck, the fallen branch, picnic table and park bench, our favorite thing is just to sit together.

I’m so glad Cookie and I can share this time. She doesn’t move as well as she used to, but then all she needs to do is walk around the yard at her own pace. She and I also remember other friends who used to share our time in the backyard.

Plus it’s only February and the tomorrow weather will change and I know it will be a while before we get a day this nice again.

While Cookie and I were sitting on the steps, we were being very still so we could count the birds in our yard for the Great Backyard Bird Count, today, February 18, through Monday, February 22. I’ve been participating in this bird count and others for years, and tomorrow I’ll be writing about how to participate in bird counts and why it’s fun and important.

Until then, curl up with your kitties as the temperature drops, an d study your bird identification books!