Saturday, July 12, 2008

For fun, seriously



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I ask people why they have deer heads
on their walls. They always say
because it's such a beautiful animal.
There you go.
I think my mother is attractive, but I
have photographs of her.
Ellen DeGeneres

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I was writing at the computer in the quiet of the night last Tuesday. Mike had been asleep for hours. I'd taken Abby and Bonbon out front for their last outside time before settling them into the laundry room where their beds are. The dogs are cordoned off from the rest of the house at bedtime, separated by a wobbly safety gate that we simply rest across the doorway. They don't realize how easy it would be to push it down and scare the heck out of us by putting their big faces next to our sleeping faces in the dark of night.

I'd played with the cats, Feather and Shiva Lullaby, earlier and Feather had settled down to sleep on my library table next to the computer desk. Shiva was asleep upstairs.

I was totally absorbed in the small writerquake I was having when suddenly a heavy thundering came pounding down the stairs at such a fast pace that I wasn't sure it was Shiva. Our one-year-old cat now weighs 16 pounds (she's on a diet) and is very heavy-footed even when walking from room to room. But this roar was something different and I was momentarily disoriented, until Shiva screeched into the kitchen near the office, spinning and sliding as her furry paws hit the slick floor. At such speed claws make for poor brakes and so through the room she skidded, legs flailing, hackles erect from her neck to her tail, until the wild fuzzball went crashing into the old safety gate sending it flat on the laundry room floor. And then she stopped.

The scene I saw at the doorway was hysterical. Abby and Bonbon lay on their beds in utter amazement that their kitten had done what our large dogs couldn't dream of doing. In bulldozing the dreaded barrier and charging into their sleeping quarters, she had proven a superiority that would take a good night's sleep to work through. So they didn't move. I picked up Shiva and returned the gate to its position while she squirmed crazily in my arms. She pushed out of my grasp and fell to the floor, where I decided to soothe her a bit before taking her up into my arms again and walking up the stairs to determine what had scared her. She clung to my shoulder, stiffened against my chest. She was truly terrified and I spoke softly to reassure her that we'd be alright.

Nothing was going on upstairs, there was no indication that anything was out of place. With the two windows in the front bedroom open for night air I felt that something outside had alarmed her. We've put the cats' carpeted climbing/scratching cube in front of one of the windows and it is there that Shiva Lullaby adores sitting for hours in the evening. I settled her there, keeping a firm grasp on her back -- still in hackles -- to keep her with me.

We live on a street that dead-ends to a large field. Beyond the field is a nice little lake that used to be hidden by a natural berm and a forested area. It was a perfect place for all kinds of wildlife and birds for...well, forever, until three years ago when a subdivision with mediocre homes was built around the lake. Of course, all the trees had to go and the natural wetland that adjoined the lake beyond the berm was filled in order to put houses there. We and all of our neighbors have noticed more deer roaming for food right in our yards (and if you've read my previous posts you know we have an influx of raccoons). I've discovered a sweet deer bed made in the corner of our lot under a heavy Sequoia bough that reaches to and sweeps along the ground. Deer are having a hard time adjusting to "progress."

There is a dim streetlight across the street and one house down from our yard. It shone on stillness, no cars, no activity in our block that I could detect. Then I heard a loud clicking on the pavement and Shiva became rigid against my hand. And I saw him, a beautiful buck with quite a rack of antlers, come from behind our plum tree and walk slowly in front of our driveway. Shiva's earlier sighting of him must have undoubtedly been in our front yard, maybe sampling my roses right underneath the open screened window.

He paused, sniffed the air, then continued on his way up the street. I pet and whispered to Shiva all the while to ease her fear. I think she sensed my awe and peace with the sight of the buck, and she relaxed.



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9 comments:

Mibsy said...

This is just too funny! I can picture the entire scenario in my mind perfectly! Poor Shiva must have had a real fright seeing that beautiful rack of antlers and went tearing downstairs! oh how funny!

Wayfaring Wanderer said...

I was on the edge of my seat with that story. I could have sworn it was going to end with something out of "When Raccoons Attack!".

raccoonlover1963 said...

Hi, Lydia. Nice blog. My cat, Salem, spazzes out like that for no reason. He has alway done it. He'll get running through the house, hit the kitchen floor and slide into the utility room and crash into the boxes of home-canned goods sitting on the floor. He's nuts!
Lisa

Arnold Layne said...

That must have been amazing seeing that deer! The closest I've ever gotten to a white buck was seeing one's head on the wall of a bar. I never did understand why they display dead animals so prominently.

Lydia said...

Mibsy, Thanks and hope your weekend is going well.

WW, "When Raccoons Attack", now that's funny!

Lisa,
Thanks! Salem sounds like a kindred to Shiva, most definitely.


Arnold,
It really is a privilege to see the wildlife. I agree about the deer mount and that's why Ellen Degeneres' quote hit a special chord for me!

Jennifer said...

I love the description of Shiva's freak-out! Oh, sensitive kitten. Will the dogs pick up on the flimsy nature of the gate? Probably not. Dogs are like (most) men in that way -- not necessarily clued into the details.

A buck sighting is pretty amazing. When I lived in DC, I saw a buck walking along a road on the zoo's property (adjacent to Rock Creek Park). So beautiful and majestic.

Lydia said...

Jennifer,
You make a valid point about the dogs and (most)men!
I'm sorry to say that I have yet to visit D.C., so I'm not sure if the area you described means that the buck you saw was actually "behind bars" or feeling lucky he wasn't!

Jennifer said...

The buck was walking freely -- along a road -- but the zoo and park abut some very urban areas. Not so good for deer. Every once in a while, there would be a news story about a deer that would show up wandering downtown.

Lydia said...

Jennifer,
Animals roaming the streets of cities around the world due to loss of natural habitat is so depressing to me. A quote:
"The bulldozer and not the atomic bomb may turn out to be the most destructive invention of the 20th century."
- Philip Shabecoff on the destruction of wildlife habitat, New York Times Magazine, 4 June 1978

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