The east coast blizzard of 2016 was one for the record books--snow amounts in excess of 30 inches. And we were right in the storm's path! It would have been wonderful to sit in a comfy chair and marvel at the beauty of the falling snow and reminisce in our childhood when we anticipated the storm's end so we could play in the drifts and sled down snow covered paths. All this with a good book and a cup of hot chocolate would have been a perfect scenario.
As adults we only anticipated the snow removal after the storm and the aching bones that would linger for days. Mainly for me, there was the concern for the outside felines that have been regular visitors to our outside shelters and feeders. How would they ever survive the brutal weather? The feeders and shelters were covered with several feet of snow and there was no way a cat could navigate through that.
After several days of worry about Sunnybud and his feline stray and feral buddies, constantly shoveling to make paths to the shelters and feeders, watching the food bowls that were not touched, I saw an unfamiliar stray dart from one of the shelters as I was sweeping snow. That was my first ray of hope that survival was possible. Then three days after the snow stopped, on my afternoon check of the sun room, there was Sunnybud! He looked tired and was hungry, but otherwise he was uninjured. Hugs and cuddling were very much in order and he invited both, as if he was glad to see me too. He snuggled on the heat packs I provided.
In last week's blog, I mentioned that my husband had given me a trail camera for Christmas so I could monitor the comings and goings on the patio day and night. The camera was buried in the snow after the blizzard until hubby shoveled and reactivated the camera. It captured Sunnybud's return those few days later and his activity since. We know for certain that two other visitors have returned to the patio as well since the storm--a tortie we have dubbed Spice and a fluffy gray and white cat.
Of course, paw prints in the snow and empty food dishes are also a reliable indicator that there have visitors to the igloo in the tomato garden and the other shelters and feeders. The camera, off course, shows us exactly who the visitors are (even the neighborhood raccoon!)
If I have learned one lesson this week, it is that I need to trust in the natural instincts of our feral friends. I can provide shelter, warmth and food, but ultimately I have to trust that their instincts also work to keep them safe. It truly makes each one of Sunnybud's visits a special part of my day. And while I hate leaving him after each visit, I feel blessed that he has etched a place in his heart for my affections despite his apparent need to remain free and a part of the outside world we sometimes fear. I guess he believes he has the best of both worlds!
GILT BY ASSOCIATION, the third book in my Caprice De Luca Home Staging Mystery series, is set in February. Although there are no snow storms in the book that match the blizzard of 2016, you can get a taste of Pennsylvania winters as Caprice works to solve a murder while dealing with the wintry weather.
USA TODAY Bestselling Author Karen Rose Smith is an only child who delved into books at an early age. She learned about kindred spirits from Anne of Green Gables, solved mysteries with Nancy Drew and wished she could have been the rider on The Black Stallion. Yet even though she escaped often into story worlds, she had many aunts, uncles and cousins around her on weekends. Her sense of family and relationships began there. Maybe that's why families are a strong theme in her novels, whether mysteries or romances. Her 91st novel will be released in 2016.
Readers often ask her about her pastimes. She has herb, flowers and vegetable gardens that help her relax. In the winter, she cooks rather than gardens. And year round she spends most of her time with her husband, as well as her four rescued cats who are her constant companions. They chase rainbows from sun catchers, reminding her life isn't all about work, awards and bestseller lists. Everyone needs that rainbow to chase.
Karen looks forward to interacting with readers. They can find her at the links below.