THE SURPRISE BENEATH THE WHEELBARROW

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Here I am again me lovelies! Back with a tale of mystery and adventure from days gone by. The sun is shining…and there is nothing going to happen today that none of us cannot handle. So…take your phones or laptops out under the nearest shade tree…get your drink…settle into your lawn chair and immerse yourself in a walk with me down memory lane to help you smile and perhaps focus on a more precious time in your own life perhaps. There is after all…beauty all round us…we just have to breathe deep enough, to be able to find it

This story takes place many many moos ago, back when I was but a teenager. And is about love…and giving …and that sometimes….life can be quite surprising when we least expect it.

It was during one dark stormy winter’s night, that they came. The wind was howling outside in the blackness and the snow was building up rapidly on the trees throughout our yard. They were shaped like upside-down dixie cups and Dad took great pride in trimming them so carefully every spring and fall. Thick white blankets of cold were up to the bottom of each tree, giving a shelter of warmth to wayward bunnies. And any birds who had decided to spend the Season enjoying the birdseed that Mum fed them out the upper story windows of the house before it froze in the eaves. As well the peanut butter balls she hung in strategic places around the yard.

Dad was sitting in his chair watching tele and Mum and I were clearing the supper plates when Frosty…our pup took a dislike to something at the door. Dad paid it no nevermind as he thought it was just the howling wind banging off the glass and splattering tiny ice crystals all about to produce frozen decorations so that one had to fine the perfec spot in order to peer out into the dark. But Mum…was curious as to Frosty’s antics and went to have a look see.

And there they were. Three shapes in the swirling snow. Looking back at Mum with vacant stares…huddled together on our porch shivering in the frigid temps. She had seen these sort of weary travelers before. Making the pilgrimage down the road at all hours of the night. Looking for a hot meal and a place to settle. And she knew all too well…that some…never returned.

“What to do?” She wondered…as she knew that Dad would not approve. It was not til later in his life that he understood the hows and whys of what Mum did from her heart. One did not reach out to strangers. Their eyes haunted her and tugged at her heart…she could not just close the door and walk away…could not tell them to go. Not when there was food and shelter to be had. She could not voice to them to wait as they did not know her…and she would be heard. So she prayed they would stay a little while longer near the house and out of the fierceness of the storm. She backed away…tears in her throat and a prayer on her lips and returned to the kitchen to help me finish cleaning up. I could tell that all was not right but she waved me off with a quiet head shake and we got back to work.

An hour later and Dad went to bed. He decided that it was too nasty for one last cigi …so he was soon asleep and snoring. Mum quieted Frosty by putting him in the heated cellar…and then went anxiously to the door. Nothing…no one. Oh no…what had become of them? Where did they go? Had they reasoned that this house too held no compassion and had wandered off to an uncertain fate? I could hear Mum whispering a prayer against the cold glass of the door and then she started to open it. VOILA! Out of the storm came three figures…she closed the door quietly and hurried to the kitchen. Quietly she prepared food and heated it. Knowing she could not have them in…she hoped it would stay warm long enough to fill their bellies. She put it on plates and scurried back to open the door ever so quietly and hand out the steaming trays. At first they looked at her in total disbelief…eyes wide with wonder…then a second later they took the food and she could tell they were proper starving. When finished they glanced at Mum and without at sound…skarted off into the snow.

So this continued…each night they would come back and each night Mum would heat food and pass it out. They got a little bolder and decided the shelter of the houses awnings was better than nothing to brave the cold. Two small fellows and one strapping lad. George…Herman…and Otis we found them to be.

Mum saw other lost souls traversing the roadway each night…but she vowed that these three at least would be kept safe from perhaps an untimely death. After a couple weeks of this…she took a brave and bold step. She took containers and made little houses for these wandering minstrels and put them…under our porch. You see…George…Herman and Otis…were tomcats. I helped put bedding in the boxes and changed it each day so they would not have to sleep on frozen blankets…and each night they came up to fill their bellies with steaming hot food before a good night’s sleep…we still could not get near to pet them. But at least they were safe…and then Dad found out!

We were terrified he would send them packing…but he looked at Mum and said…”Well… you started it…not much I can do bout it now.”

And so thru the winter months it continued…oft times now the three musketeers, who we knew to be males as they all loved to spray anything they could find outside… would take to sunning themselves on the rails of the porch whenever Mother Nature would heat things up long enough for them to find a spot to fall asleep in. We were all glad for spring …but as the weather heated up…something changed.

We started being able to pet George. He would sit on the porch more often and hang round after the food was gone, long enough for me to go out and scratch him up and then he would vanish back to the shelter and warmth of the nether regions of the porch…however…on the flip side…Otis and Herman…were making traveling plans.

It confused us as there was more than enough room for them and plenty of food. And when they arrived…they all seemed to get along. So…what was going on? It saddened Mum to think of them wandering off…but first Otis, then Herman would stay away for longer periods of time. Herman was a white tabby cat with grey tiger stripes…very long and the biggest cat of the three. Otis…was a brown and grey striped tabby…dwarfed in size comparably to Herman and not as strong. And then there was George…who always did seem to fall somewhere in the middle. A black and white cat with a mask of mischief and big emerald eyes.

By end of May….both Herman and Otis were gone. We would see Herman from time to time…but he would never come near. Mum often wondered the why’s and wherefore’s of it and would look sad whilst petting George who was more than grateful for all he had. Then the beginning of June…..life surprised us all.

One day Dad went out to mow the lawn…he had no room in the cellar then nor shed to keep the mower. So it was placed out back after we no longer had a pool…and both it and the tiller had things put overtop of them to protect them from the elements. Over the tiller was an old wash tub. Over the lawn mower…an upside down wheelbarrow. Shortly after he went out…he came back in again and got Mum. Then they came in and got me….we went round the back and looked at one another in disbelief.

George…was a girl!!

For under the wheel barrow was now aptly deemed, ‘Mother’ and her brood of 14. And THAT ladies and genklefins…was the start of many more adventures to come …including…my Angel Baby Boo…who I will tell you about another time.

Until tomorrow–stay safe…breathe deep… live well and play hard…love and be loved and know that you are never alone. You got this–Faith Honeybee Setley and Logan

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