Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The Domestic Scene

I slept poorly last night, but woke at the usual time to lie still for a few moments,
wedged about with cats. 
The daylight slotting through the shutters has a grey quality and I hear a swhooshing of wind.
The cats have an uncanny ability to register the exact moment when I shift from slumber mode to the first blinks of wakefullness.
A human awake is a human who should be tending cats!
While I stretch creakily beneath the covers and contemplate the ordering of the day, the cats tread heavily upon me; they meow; they purr. Furry paws reach from the bedside stand to prod, gently but insistantly. Mima plods across my pillow, pulling my long hair.
 Charlie, sitting on the floor, reaches up to whack Mrs. Beasley, who growls. 
Teasel brings her beautiful face close to mine, making throaty sounds of encouragement.
Lingering in bed is not an option.

In the livingroom I open the curtains and stand gazing out at the cloudy morning. Cats mill about my ankles, pleading for breakfast.  They make meaningful dashes toward the kitchen, returning to herd me in the right direction.  I fend them off long enough to heave two chunks of dry maple into the embers of last nights fire, then follow them to the kitchen.
This morning performance is not about lack of food or imminent deprivation of any sort.
It is a ritual as firmly established as our morning cup of coffee, and until that spoonful each of tinned food is doled out, there is no peace.

The weather report didn't call for rain, the air was warmish and it seemed a good day in spite of the clouds  to wash sheets and let them flap dry in the wind. 
Fallen leaves were scudding about the driveway and into the carport. When I opened the sliding door into the cat enclosure the curtains billowed and surged.
With the cats sorted I took my coffee in by the fire, opened my laptop to check email and skim through my favorite blogs.
Gusts of wind shrieked down the chimney. Cats hurtled in and out the sliding door, tangling in the blowing curtain, colliding with each other, hissing and snarling testily.
Catching their restlessness, I put on my wellies and a tattered hoodie. I stood at the edge of the carport watching Willis and Co as they chased whirling leaves and wrestled each other in the gravel of the driveway.
Pebbles spotted me and trumpeted from the edge of her pasture.
As I started up the path she pounded toward the barn, whirled, kicked out her back legs, and plunged back down the fence line, snorting.
J. emerged, drove the lawn mower out of the barn and began circling the dooryard, chewed up leaves and short grass spewing in his wake.
While bed linens churned in the washer, I dealt with litter boxes.
Approaching my litter dump at the far end of the back pasture I was startled by the sharp warning coughs of deer and looked into the woods in time to see three whitetails plunging into the dark stand of trees.

There was an undercurrent of disturbance to the morning--animals all acting twitchy as grey clouds billowed across the sky.
The air smelled of woodsmoke and woodpiles, of cut grass and decaying leaves.

I fetched a collander and snipped Swiss chard from the late summer planting.

As I pegged out the flannel sheets and the pillowcases the first tentative drops of rain
pelted the back of my neck.
"You said it wouldn't rain!" I accused J. as he trundled past with a wheelbarrow load of wood.
"I only read you the weather report," he retorted, "I didn't research it!"
Rain blew on gusts of wind, faltered, began again. The sheets grew sodden, hanging limply, then straining at the wooden clothes pegs as the wind veered round from the north.

Pebbles eyed us from the door to her lean-to--likely calculating the possibility that J. would unwittingly serve up a second breakfast of grain.
I headed for the house, to a hot shower and dry clothes.

The rain quit, leaving damp grass and a slick of wet in the driveway.
From the front window I noted a convocation of robins, perhaps two dozen of them, bustling and picking.

A half-hearted sun played hide and seek, glowing through the branches of the burning bush.
The cats found the yard too damp for their liking and sought warm places in the house to nap.

I kneaded a batch of bread, started supper.  J. went to help G. construct a pet yard.
I fetched in the still damp sheets and bundled them into the dryer, put the kettle on for tea.
Evening draws in so early now, the days shortening toward the solstice, little more than a month away.
Twilight stained the sky with lavender behind the lingering grey clouds. The branches of the maples, bare now of their leaves, moved soundlessly.

In the east, the moon rode a sky of palest apricot.

I seldom take photos of the moon as the night time setting for my camera produces an effect darker than the reality.

I am intrigued by the tracery of bare branches and the moon caught in their frame.

Inside to stay as darkness falls.
The loaves are pulled from the oven, the kitchen is cozy with the smell of baking.
J. cuts a thick slab of bread while it is still warm.
I slice one for myself, turn the kettle on again.
We shut doors, draw curtains, settle into the house for the night.


  1. You conjured up a wonderful feeling here as I read your post.
    Our day starts pretty much the same as yours.
    As soon as dawn begins to break they pester and play fight until one of us gets up to let them all out, impossible to ignore and they know it, but would we have it any other way? I know we wouldn't.

  2. What a wonderful post. I too wake up wedged by cats ...I recently have had to limit the number as I end up having not moved all night....and very stiff.
    Usually its HP,Mika,Smudge and one of the others sneaking in after my night visit to the loo. The rest are a tad annoyed but then they have loads of other places to sleep.
    What a fantastic burst of colour from the Burning Bush....and I love the smell of new baked bread. xx

  3. That was a nice homey post about your day from beginning to sunset. I could see, feel, and smell it all, in my imagination.

    Have a lovely day today.


  4. Thank you for the wonderful post this morning as I drank my tea and chuckled about the cats and their stomping, prodding. I have the same "problem", I just move a little, and everyone is up and running to the kitchen, whining, and cursing me that I am not moving fast enough. I have to start my tea water or coffee as soon as I get up, and then stumble and step on cat's feet, tails and whatever else gets under my not so steady feet. Hisses, and growls as everyone jockey's for position to the pecking order of the buffet line.
    Have a wonderful, pleasant rest of the week, and up coming weekend.
    Enjoy your beautiful hamlet, my friend.

  5. Briony: Cats do seem to know that their outrageous actions will work--we will get up and serve them!

    Angie: Isn't it amazing how a relatively small animal [a cat]can dominate the place where one is trying to sleep? Its even more amazing that we lie there cramped, so as not to distrub the cat! The Burning bush is quite non-descript for must of the year. It comes into this time of brilliance when the leaves have fallen from the other trees.

    FL; The best smell of the day was the bread in the oven! My pleasure in baking revives with the coming of cooler weather.

    Denim; I smiled at your comment--but the issue of tripping on a cat is very real in this household. I will someday in my old age probably break a hip while trying not to fall over a cat under-foot!

  6. MM: a beautifully written post. You are such a skillful writer. I loved every moment of your day -- and the cats, not to mention Pebbles. I do hope you write for publication.

  7. This sounds like a perfect late autumn day filled with small domestic tasks and an awareness of the beauties of Nature. A lovely post.