Kublai went plowing out into the snow before I had a chance to shovel our paths. You can see a trail of pawprints in the snow behind him. I have no idea what he might have been after, but he loved snow, and he would often take off across the yard, or jump into a drift and kick his way around. As I shoveled the usual paths around the back yard to fill the bird feeders and get to the compost bin today I so clearly remembered snowy mornings with Kublai years before, shoveling the same path around the back yard, even wearing the same”yard coat” as I shoveled. When I’d found the photos from last week for “Christmas-y”, I also found these photos in the same box and knew I had to share them today.
Below, he cruises back toward the house after I’d shoveled toward him.
We had some very snowy days in the early 90s after we’d moved in here, and winter 1995-96 was one of those snowy years and it seemed like every day there was more snow to shovel. He was 15 years old, and that winter was snowy well into March, see Snow Cat, when each day I went out to fill the bird feeders before I went to work. Even though Kublai wasn’t well that winter, nothing dulled his love for snow. I discovered that when I was still in college, a school that was in the “snow belt” in northwestern PA, near Erie, when we often had snow from October to May. He would leap into a drift and happily flounder around like I do in a good place to swim.
He finally decided he might have had enough. Maybe. You can see some snow on his nose, and on his hind legs. The rest of it had already melted or fallen off. He was all in it.
Here is what the back yard looked like on a different snowy morning that winter. The two big wire things are extra compost bins in the garden that I built to hold leaves from all the trees. In spring I could turn the contents a few times then loosen the fencing and rake the compost right into the garden beds. Of course, they were a source of constant scented pleasure for a cat, from other cats visiting to critters who likely lived in there over winter for the heat.
Vintage photos from previous years
Late Autumn, 1987
So I disturbed his sunbath, and Allegro was probably wondering why his human is lying on her belly on the floor just a few feet away from him and looking at him with her one eye thing. His sleepy eyes tell me he’s not really concerned about it, though, and he’s likely moments from either just closing his eyes, or closing his eyes and lying his head down to continue what he was doing before I interrupted him. I have only one photo of him so I would guess some time went by before he did anything else, or I would have more. Apparently we waited each other out. I just wish I’d gotten there a few minutes before the sun moved off his hind legs. I would have loved to have seen him fully alight with sunshine against the shaded background.
I do know that it was 1987 and it was in the house I rented before I moved here. I’m not exactly sure what the date or even the month was, but, as usual, the fullness of the light meant the trees were bare, and the angle of light meant it was within a month of the solstice, and the next photos on the roll were of Christmas. Whenever it was, tall and lanky Allegro always enjoyed a sunbath on the floor, rolling along the carpet as the sun moved across the floor.
Yeah, yeah, it would make a great painting, and that’s just what I thought 32 years ago when I took this photo, and I wasn’t really even painting yet. I still think so. We’ll see.
Vintage Photos from Previous Years
Stanley Napping, 1994
Stanley was great at napping in the sun. How many images do I have of him dozing off with the sun on his back?
He’d had urinary issues from the time he came to me, and from his actions and reactions I presumed he’d ended up outside because someone didn’t understand he was peeing all over the house because he had no choice, or because they couldn’t afford his treatment. But in the meantime someone had done an abusive number on him judging by his reaction around feet and brooms and loud noises and how his play would suddenly turn violent. I’d never experienced anything like his urinary condition or his emotional condition before, and between the two I got the second big lesson in feline diets after reviving Moses from near starvation. Lots of Stanley-testing later, we found one that agreed with him and everyone else. But if you looked at him funny, it might start all over again.
So watching Stanley relax in the sun was always a treat for me.
You can’t see his big green eyes here, but you can see the little diamond between his eyes and his terra-cotta nose, the brilliant white chest, and the thing I possibly loved best about him, those big white mittens—I love white paws on any animal, and I have no idea why. Stanley always gave me high-five when he came into a room, doing a long stretch with his right paw stretched wayyyy forward up in the air, toes spread, and he’d stop in the middle of bringing it down to the ground. He would also wave his paws when he was talking to me as if to emphasize what he was saying, but I don’t think he realized he did this. When he saw his paw waving out of the corner of his eye he would look at it in shock as if he had no idea what it was, then recognize it as his paw and decide it was there because he’d been about to give it a bath, so he would.
As I’ve been mentioning, Stanley lived to be about 25, with a great quality of life up until the end. If you are considering adopting and you see a cat in a shelter, don’t be so concerned if they are 10 or older, thinking your relationship will be brief or fear their loss and not give them a home. Cats can live long lives, just like Stanley, and they never stop loving, or being inspiring.
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This is the guy who started it all–and nearly the last one to have his portrait done! He fostered every stray kitten and cat I ever brought into my home, and shepherded me through the ups and downs of the fifteen years he was with me. Read more and purchase.
All images and text used on this site are copyrighted to Bernadette E. Kazmarski unless otherwise noted and may not be used without my written permission, although links to your site are more than welcome and are shared. Please ask if you are interested in using and image or story in a print or internet publication. If you are interested in purchasing a print of an image or a product including it, check my animal and nature website Portraits of Animals to see if I have it available already. If you don’t find it there, visit Ordering Custom Artwork for more information on a custom greeting card, print or other item.
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Weekly schedule of features:
Sunday: Essays, Pet Loss, Poetry, The Artist’s Life Monday: Adoptable Cats, TNR & Shelters Tuesday: Rescue Stories Wednesday: Commissioned Portrait or Featured Artwork Thursday: New Merchandise Friday: Book Review, Health and Welfare, Advocacy Saturday: Your Backyard Wildlife Habitat, Living Green With Pets, Creating With Cats And sometimes, I just throw my hands in the air and have fun!
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