The 12-ish Gifts of 2020: Animals

I took this picture with my iPhone this morning (so sorry for the mediocre quality). It was a red tailed hawk that was looking at me while I was looking at him. We had quite a nice energetic exchange, which inspired me to think about how much I have enjoyed my time with animals during these month of sheltering at home.

With things being more quiet––less human activity, and particularly less cars––wildlife experts are saying animals are venturing more into human territory. I’ve certainly had some wonderful encounters with animals that seems to come closer––or allowed me to get closer to them––than in previous years.

In the late spring and summer, I was delighted to watch the exploits of a mated pair of falcons in my usual walking territory. This is the first time that I’ve know falcons to be there, or at least for them to have allowed me to get close enough to them to be able to identify them. I was able to find their nesting tree and to watch their eating habits (one would eat, then call to the other, then fly off––sometimes but not always––to the nesting tree, allowing the other one to fly to the remains of the prey and eat). Here are my poor quality pictures of the two:

Look how close these normally-skittish animals let me get:

This sheltering-at-home time has allowed me more opportunity to observe and to learn from the creatures with whom I share my backyard, and I am grateful for that.

Of course, there were also the indoor animals––our four cats. They are all from the same family, but the truth is, they have never gotten along that well. They tended to avoid each other at best, and there was usually at least one session of one of them chasing another one every few days or so. Most of them weren’t very social with us either, to be honest.

So I was amazed to find this happening one day:

(Going from left to right, that is Mica, Mama Cat, and Opal)
I had NEVER known them to sleep so close together. And I had never known even one of them, let alone three of them, to sleep on my bed. Of course, I wasn’t crazy that they were sleeping directly on my pillows. But I was amazed they were sharing the space so peacefully.

This was around the end of April, when we had been staying home for a little over a month. It made me realize that since we were all at home, the cats had been getting along better. It made me wonder if their little spats with each other were really because they weren’t getting enough attention from us. I thought I tried to give them each some affection every day, but maybe I hadn’t been.

So it made me be more patient about tending to them, especially first thing in the morning when they wanted food, water, and attention at the same time that I was tending to my early morning needs. I also did a better job of making the bed on top to cover my pillows, but put a series of pillows at the food of the bed for their use (except when I “borrowed” the purple fuzzy pillow during yoga or meditation).

(That is Mama Cat and the other all-black cat, Obsidian. My son was really into Minecraft when Mama Cat, a pregnant stray we took in, had her babies, so the kittens were all named after rocks.)
For a while, a rotating couple of them would sleep on those pillows overnight, which meant I had to keep my legs tucked in somewhat or risk a scratch from an alarmed half-asleep cat.

I don’t know about most cats, but these cat have their favorite resting spots for a while, but then get bored and move on to a new spot. So by June, they had given up the pillows and the bed.

Still, they are much more tolerant of each other and more affectionate with us, especially me. So these months have allowed me to develop a better relationship with my cats. I guess I’m more tolerant with them, so they are more tolerant with each other. So, more peace in our household––which is a gift.

Having time to pay attention to the animals within and without our house…that is another thing that I’m grateful for in 2020.


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