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LOEWEN: The cat, the quail, and the year ahead

Image Credit: Compilation/Jennifer Stahn
January 06, 2016 - 8:19 AM

We slipped quietly under the sheets as 2015 receded into memory.

For the first time in many years, New Year’s Eve wasn’t spent out on the town amidst the contrived conviviality of revellers. And with the two of us struggling to maintain workaday equilibrium against the onslaught of flu-bugs and General Yuletide Burnout, New Year’s Eve seemed like the perfect time to share drinks and dinner with my mother-in-law, enjoy a sober moonlit drive home, and an early-to-bed.

In some respects, 2015 was an annus horribilis for your Wednesday morning monologist. Not entirely, mind you.

I felt a brief flutter of hope and optimism as a much-loathed prime minister was ousted from office. I recall good times spent with my partner Wendy vacationing in Mexico, and traveling to favourite retreats throughout our beautiful province.

But with the passing of my father earlier in the year, and the passing of Wendy’s father a couple years ago, Christmas was a time of deep reflection and some personal mourning.

By the time New Year’s Eve rolled around, I think I was relieved that the year was just about done.

New Year’s morning began as most mornings do, with a single claw from our geriatric feline minder, Merlin, piercing the top of sleeping Wendy’s scalp -- his reminder for us that it’s morning and that our personal need for a proper lie-in doesn't trump his insistence upon the timeliness of his morning nosh.

A cat can keep a guy honest, or at least regular. It takes only a single scalp piercing to rouse my mate; and it falls to me to get up and do the cat’s bidding. So off we went, Merlin bounding off the bed and hitting the carpet with a thud, and me trudging blindly into the hallway behind the puss.

A half can of Friskies dispatched to his dish, some fresh water sloshing in his bowl, and the cat was satisfied for the moment. For me: grinding the coffee beans and putting the kettle on, some aimless puttering about, and a new year to eye through the kitchen window.

A thick layer of snow covered the back yard. In the distance, the bell tower of Mission Hill was shrouded in early morning mist.

Part of the daily morning ritual for Merlin and me is to sit awhile on the back deck, regardless of the season. And New Year’s morning was no different. After the feeding, the scratch at the back door, and out we went.

Merlin found his spot under the handrail overlooking the yard covered in white. Like the year ahead, the backyard appeared to be a stark blank sheet, a reminder of unfinished business beckoning.

I sipped from the first mug of a year of coffee to come, resolutely lit the year’s first smoke, and listened to the amiable greeting of a covey of quail, half-buried and burrowing for fallen seeds in the snow beneath the feeder.

Watching quail and listening to their unique “chi-caw-go” calls never fails to amuse me. I can’t help but smile when I witness their pudgy presence, and the scattershot movements that send their odd crowns aquiver.

And seeing them so active amidst the drifting snow of New Year’s morning somehow conveyed a humbling sense that, irrespective of upsetting turns of personal fortune, life continues, a world awaits to be formed out of the blank slate that is a yard adrift in snow. That beneath the surface one finds seeds, nourishment, and sustenance for the year ahead.

You just have to dig a little, and it’s there, an annus mirabilis to come.

— Jeffrey Loewen is a Kelowna-based writer who plays music by day and politics by night

News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2016
InfoTel News Ltd

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