I confess. I was the person on the plane from Sanford, Fla., to Toledo wearing a protective face mask.
If anyone laughed or pointed fingers, I didn’t see them or care. Nor did I see anyone else who was mindful of the many warnings about the flu epidemic.
I decided after the flight down that I would invest in masks for the return trip. The woman behind me had an incessant cough and you could hear plenty of sneezes over the engine’s roar. In past years you could cover your face with a blanket or pillow, but those amenities are erased from today’s frugal airline budgets. After the first sneeze I put on my winter coat and pulled the hood over my head and down far enough over my face to cover my chin.
When you return home to 20-degree temperatures and 30-mile winds after 83 degrees in Florida, friends don’t hold back words.
“Are you crazy?”
“We thought you were smarter than to leave the sunny south in January.”
To such sarcasm I have one response.
“You are absolutely right.”
No matter the season, the welcome from my four-legged pals is always gratifying. As frustrated as they are when the suitcase comes out of the attic, Geranium, Hemingway, and Lydia are equally excited when they see it brought back into the house and unloaded.
It is no secret that I am a dog lover, but now that felines occupy my time, devotion, and a big chunk of the grocery budget, I agree with the millions of cat fanciers that they may be different from dogs in many ways, but they are also faithful and lovable. And you don’t have to take them outdoors in all kinds of weather.
The night I returned home the wind was howling and strong enough to blow the birdhouses from the trees and shatter the safe places I had built for wild critters. While rebuilding the animal retreats with the tarps, quilts, plywood, boxes, and straw bales that were in disarray, I thought how important it is that we remember the outdoor animals in winter.
While some birds head south for the winter, you find out how many species brave the cold north when the feeder is filled. It’s fun to watch the cardinals, blue jays, and others gather.
In answer to a plea made to Bronwyn, the young woman who cares for the cats in my absence, Callie, the wild calico is in the garage with Dove. The two have been regular diners on the front porch for four years and I wanted them to be safe and warm this winter. I had lured Dove into the garage, but I could not catch Callie. Thanks to Bronwyn and a live trap, the two untamed cats are together again and will be released in the spring.
While writing this column, I have been trying to decide whether to admit to yet another cat. So here goes. On a visit to a friend, a black cat was desperately trying to get in the house. I was told that they had no intention of feeding the cat and that the owner was not returning.
When I opened my car door, the cat jumped in. I hope that someone will want the black cat. She is friendly, well behaved, has a sleek, shiny short-haired coat, and mixes well with the other cats.
Her plight is typical for black cats. She was one of a litter of four. Homes were found for the three that were not black. Statistics show that black cats have the lowest adoption rate and the highest euthanasia rate.
Remember Sullivan, my 20-year-old black cat? I am calling this one Kelly, hoping it will bring Irish luck and a good home, other than this one. I don’t want to take her to a shelter.
Mary Alice Powell is a retired Blade food editor.
Contact her at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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