I was making monthly visits to see my mother last year when I noticed that one of her bluebird boxes was occupied. She was in and out of hospitals for a while, and I was in and out of state. But I managed few peeks at them now and then.
Dad or a sibling seemed always to be on the lookout. Whether they were looking for danger, or searching for bugs, I wasn’t sure. But they usually saw me and my camera, and weren’t afraid to let me know it.
Aside from all the people watching the bluebird family engaged in, they were just as busy catching bugs. Crawling bugs, flying bugs – I’m not sure how they found them all.
I wanted to see the fledglings, but I had to leave, and when I got back a week later, the family had moved on.
I did manage a tiny glimpse at one of them, though.
Mom has loved flowers for as long as I can remember.
Every spring when we were young, she would take us to little flower shops up the road from the hill we lived on. We would pass by rows and rows of blooming plants, inhaling the rich scent of flowers and dark brown soil. After we brought her favorites to the house, she would dig some holes in some of her existing flowerbeds and introduce each plant to its new home, where it would thrive.
After we grew up and left, Mom’s love affair with flowers continued. She and Dad put up a chain-link fence, and she planted bushes of hibiscus all down one side. There were more flowers surrounding Dad’s free-standing shop, and her front flowerbed was always full. Last spring and summer, after giving the plot a good weeding, I camped out near the flowerbed and took pictures of hummingbirds, who were drawn to the sugar-water feeders we hung.
We brought Mom to live with us in North Carolina last August (under protest, she will tell you). But before we left, I took pictures of some of the flowers she had to leave. This way, she can always remember what they looked like.
Two-thousand seventeen has been a busy year for us, with all the moving around. I relocated to West Virginia for five months to take care of Mom, while my husband worked on assignment in South Carolina. On weekends, we met in the middle to house hunt. Our old place wasn’t practical any more.
In between doctor and hospital visits, we found a new house. Bill moved onto a new job site, and in August, Mom and I and her cats moved into the new house, bought with her in mind. We’ve been learning to live with each other again, and working on settling in, ever since.
Some days we find a lot to laugh about, and on others, we move to our respective “corners,” but we try our best to make things work. Bill was home this week, and after I finished working on an online project, I went outside to try to talk Mom into taking a walk. Bill had beat me to it. I found him escorting her through the woods.
She had a great time viewing the fall colors, being “back in the woods,” and managed the dips and hills in the uneven ground much better than I thought she would.
I went back to the house to grab her walking stick my brother crafted for her, along with my camera. Some of the trees have lost their fall foliage, but others have just joined the show.
We came in and ate some lunch, then Mom and I went out for another look. She sat and took a rest while I marveled at the color all around us.
I read this week that the Japanese use a term we loosely translate as “forest bathing” to describe a relaxing time in the woods. I think it’s a great term, as our souls were soaking up the beauty of all those colors today.
Mom said she has had enough walking for a few days, but the trees are not far from the house. I bet I can talk her into another session of forest bathing over the weekend.
The first time Mom laid eyes on Shere Khan, she was answering an ad for a kitten who needed a new home. “He doesn’t like people,” the man said. Mom sat down, and Shere Khan promptly jumped up on her lap to say hello. She brought him home. He was to be a companion cat to Tiger, a lovely ragamuffin kitten my brother-in-law had found in a parking lot in Virginia, and brought him on a family trip to see my parents. Tiger ended up staying, but he was about to claw my Dad to death. The vet said he needed a playmate.
Enter Shere Khan.
The first time I laid eyes on the gray tabby, he was full of the usual kitten antics, but he had a new trick to share, one I found hilarious. He would sit back on his hind legs and rise up, front feet dangling, like a meerkat. He was warmly affectionate, and highly entertaining. I called him my Little Buddy.
Tiger was always more aloof. My sister and mother call him snooty. But I think he’s just a little shy.
That was until last fall, when I started traveling to check on Mom, on a more-or-less regular basis. I tried each trip to make friends, and he eventually became less standoffish. He even stood still for some petting, now and then.
A few months ago, when Mom got sick, I essentially moved in to help her out. Both kitties got used to me pretty quick, and I’ve discovered most of Tiger’s hiding spots for sleeping. Shere Khan likes to curl up beside me and take a nap. He lets me know, either by staring, winding around my legs or by talking, that it’s time for me to stop what I’m doing and dole out some attention.
Watching them play is fun, but I’ve come to enjoy seeing them groom each other. While one is licking, the other usually has a blissful look on his face.
I caught them at bath-time this afternoon, and they ignored me for a while.
That is, until I turned on the flash.
Luckily, Shere Khan is quick to forgive. Like Tiger, I’ve been the recipient of several of his loving head-bumps.