It was only the middle of November when we got our first, brutal reminder that winter was definitely on its way in Toronto, Canada. It was late into the evening when I noticed that it was snowing. A thin layer of snow had transformed our dull neighbourhood into a magical wonderland.
From the height of our 11th floor apartment, this wonderland stretched out for miles and miles. It was the kind of beautiful sight that is always best shared with someone.
My son was hard at work on the computer though, and when I see pinched eyebrows over narrowed eyes, I know better than to disturb him. So I went for the next best thing, sharing the sight with my other kids, my five cats.
First up was Charlie, an all white, twelve year old. I woke him from his sleep and said “Would you like to see the snow Charlie?” Being carried in my arms, he did not have much choice as to go where I went.
I put him on the windowsill in my son’s bedroom and waited for his reaction. Charlie sat there, staring at me. “Look,” I said, tapping at the glass of the window, “snow.” Charlie, momentarily distracted by the tapping noise, looked in the direction of the window, and then looked back at me.
I could see it in his eyes, he was not impressed. He was probably wondering why I had disturbed him in his nap. What was the big deal? He had seen snow before. It was white, it was cold, and after a few days it turned to slush.
Up next was Chanel, an eight year old Maine Coon. Chanel’s paws barely touched the windowsill before she jumped down again. And then she stood there, looking at me, clearly wondering ‘What on earth was that? That white stuff, what was that?’
Chanel has been with me since she was a 7 week old kitten, so there is no history of trauma, yet she is afraid of everybody and everything. I think she would be afraid of her own shadow.
I thought I’d try my luck with Charlotte, a 19 month old Tabby with an attitude.
Charlotte, once deposited on the windowsill, sat gazing at the falling snow like it was money coming down from the skies. She looked up, she looked down, up again and down again. “Snow,” I told her, “that’s snow.” She paid me no attention. So I thought I would let her be and got the next in line, Mickey.
Mickey is a 17 month old tuxedo cat. He was as fascinated by the falling white stuff as Charlotte was. Seated on the windowsill he too looked up, looked down, stuck his head forward to get a better look and occasionally looked at me. “Snow,” I told him, stroking his back, “that’s snow.”
He was having none of it, the stroking I mean. He wanted to look at the snow without any distractions. He was moving away and bumped into Charlotte. Charlotte gave him a dirty look. Mickey pushed, and then Charlotte pushed back. The words “You move. No you move. No you move,” came to mind.
Finally there was baby Gabriel, a 16 week old Ragdoll kitten. I figured the windowsill might be too cold for his young constitution, so I just held him.
He took one look out the window and wanted to join Mickey and Charlotte. His little feet kicking to be let go and, okay, he could have a quick peek.
In no time at all Gabriel wanted to do more than just peek, he wanted to catch the snow flakes. Standing on his little hind legs he made a grab for the snow, found that a pane of glass stood in his way and became frustrated. He tried to grab again and again, lost his balance and tumbled on the bed underneath the window. He sat there, looking totally confused.
Mickey, ever his protector, stuck his head between the vertical blinds and looked down. What he was thinking was written all over his face — amateur!
Seeing that Mickey and Charlotte were going to be there for a while, I took an old table cloth and draped it over the cold window sill. With something warm and soft under their paws Gabriel could join again too.
And so they sat there, the three of them, happily mesmerized looking at what was falling from the skies and what gathered into a thick white blanket on the ground.
Meanwhile Chanel had strategically positioned herself in the hallway. She is no fool. What she lacks in guts she makes up for in intelligence. If she saw me coming for her, she could outsmart me. She could run into the living room, or slip into my bedroom and duck underneath the bed. No way was she going back on the windowsill. I could forget that silly idea.
And Charlie? Charlie was curled up on the couch enjoying the warmth and extra space After all, he had seen it all before, and he certainly didn’t need to see it again.