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A LONG WINTER'S NAP
December 8, 2003
 
The kitchen is rather dark for midmorning: the snow has crowded out some of the light from the windows. Q enters, carrying Gypsy.

Want to watch the show? he asks her. Gypsy doesn't say anything. He plants her hind legs on the stool next to the North window and her front legs on the window sill. He encircles her ample body with one hand and leans down to look out the window with her.

A bird feeder is affixed to the window glass. It is backed with a two-way mirror, so that the birds who visit the feeder can't see us, but we can see them. Up very close. It is a bird feeder designed to fascinate a human being and drive a cat mad.

At first, Gypsy doesn't know why she's here. Soon, though, a purple finch hops on the feeder and begins to pick through the snow for seeds. Gypsy goes rigid: her tail begins to twitch back and forth like a metronome. Then a couple of titmice and another finch fly in and begin to pick through the seed. Gypsy leans into the glass and takes a swipe at one of the birds. It gives no sign of having seen anything out of the ordinary. Gypsy stays there for a long time, her body tense with the anticipated thrill of a chase that will never come, her tail twitching madly.

Meanwhile, the other feeder is busy with other birds: cardinals on the tray feeder, storing up calories as the snow falls fast. More finches. Sparrows. Woodpeckers hammering away on the suet block. No squirrels, which is gratifying: they can't get the running start they need to leap up there in all this snow. All day long I visit the feeder with bowls of seed, dusting off the snow as best I can and refilling it. Birds are everywhere. They have to keep eating while they can. It takes a lot of energy to be a bird in the winter.

Not so much to be a cat. Gypsy's sturdy little body is wonderful to hold: hard and muscular, solid as a rock. Ready for winter. Kate is old now, and her body feels fragile: she has trouble keeping enough fat on her bones, so she has special food and thyroid pills. What's-Her-Name is always the same: lean and ready for action, not interested in being cuddled by anybody. She is no longer fooled by the bird show. She knows she can't get them. All of the cats have slowed down as the weather has turned colder. A cat in the winter sleeps about 18 hours a day, perhaps more.

This sounds familiar: I took a three-hour nap yesterday, after a good night's sleep and a morning so light in terms of duties it's not even worth reporting. No reason to be tired, and yet I slept. It's winter.

There was a time when I wouldn't have been able to do that. Couldn't fall asleep in the daytime to save my soul. I disdained naps when I was a young adult. They were for lightweights, easily exhausted dilettantes who pretended to work. When I was a child I regarded the adult love of naps with disgust -- why did they always want to sleep? Sunday afternoons were the worst -- I would prowl the house impatiently, waiting for someone to awaken. I'll never be like that, I vowed. I am just like that.

There are so many things to watch and do. Work to finish. Bird shows at the window. Magazines and newspapers to read. Things to clean and polish. Presents to wrap and cards to write, at this time of year. But I crawl under the comforter, telling myself I'll just rest and listen to the radio for a few minutes. I search my soul for something harsh to say to myself about falling asleep in the daytime, but I seem to have forgotten my lines.
Copyright © 2018 Barbara Crafton
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