Cats, Snow, and Bucket Lists

Snow in Nashville meant one thing: I finally got to cross “throw Rascal into a snow bank” off of my bucket list. Well, actually, we didn’t get enough snow to make a bank so I had to make do with “gently place cats on snow-covered grass.” Cats plural because I have three and Rascal isn’t the only one who got to experience the magic of snow this week.

Rascal

Rascal is my nine-year-old Siamese-Tabby mix. He is a big ol’ love bug, except when you scold him, then he back talks with more sass than a moody teenager. He’s pretty and he knows it, which is good because he’s not exactly the sharpest tool in the shed.

Hobbies include: lizard hunting, stealing people’s seats when they get up, watching people shower, seeing how far he can carry a Dixie cup full of water out of the bathroom before he spills it, and eating cookies (what we call cat treats).

Likes: cookies, back scratches, belly rubs, being told he’s pretty

Dislikes: Harley invading his room (AKA my room), people touching his tail, snow.

Snow: I’ve wanted to throw Rascal into a big pile of snow ever since I realized that his gorgeous fluffy white coat and huge paws with their extra-long toe hairs make him perfectly built to romp around in it. Unfortunately, my big dumb snow cat hates the snow. He squirmed and clung to me when I tried to put him down in it and when I finally did succeed in setting him down he immediately wanted to get back to the snow-less safety of the house. He is currently holding a major grudge toward us for subjecting him to the trauma of it to the point of looking seriously offended if we so much as ask him if he wants to go outside. Drama queen.

Harley

Harley is the baby of the family at seven years old. If you’re a person he’s a total sweetheart. If you’re a cat, he’s an asshole who likes to pick fights and steal your food. He’s the reason our cats’ food bowls look like something out of a science fiction movie.

Hobbies include: eating, bird watching, cuddling, sleeping by the fireplace, eating, playing with string, burrowing under blankets, and did I mention eating?

Likes: food, string, fireplaces, being picked up

Dislikes: children, car rides, not being fed promptly at 6 (am or pm)

Snow: Harley minded snow the least of the three. In fact, if he can still eat the grass underneath it, it might as well not even be there.

 

Shadow

At 15 years old, Shadow is a grouchy old man. To anyone who isn’t familiar with him, the noises he makes whenever anyone picks him up sound like he’s being tortured and mistreated. Truth is, he’ll scream and growl and errf till he’s blue in the face but he’d never hurt a fly and as soon as you put him down he might even be rubbing against your leg asking to be scratched. He’s just letting you know he’d rather be loved while his feet are firmly on the ground.

Hobbies include: sleeping, playing with toy mice, screaming till he gets what he wants, howling in the middle of the night.

Likes: face scratches, cookies, chicken, being brushed, water from the faucet

Dislikes: being picked up, closed doors, his cat carrier

Snow: Shadow had no interest in the snow. He wasn’t as freaked out by it as Rascal but he also really didn’t want anything to do with it or with going outside in this weather.

Town Line Tuesday: Winter Shenanigans

It’s snowing in Nashville today! So I thought I’d get in the winter spirit and write a short snow scene between Daphne and her partner Hannah for this week’s Town Line Tuesday. This takes place a few years after Daphne’s exile from New Salem and long before the events of The Demon of New Salem. It’s canon-compliant but will probably never be brought up in canon. Also I’m posting this from my phone because my internet went out right as I went to post this so if anything is wonky with the formatting that’s why.

​“Hurry up would you,” Hannah called over her shoulder, “the sooner we find the Winter Court the sooner we can go back to drinking hot chocolate by the fire.”

​Daphne pulled her eyes away from the animal tracks she had been studying—canine if she remembered Adam’s tracking lessons correctly—and grinned at her friend. “What’s the matter? Cold?”

“No” she said, wrapping her arms around her middle to retain body warmth. “I’ll just be happier when we can get out of this damn snow.”

“How can you not like snow?”

“What’s to like? Its cold, its wet, it gets all over everything, its annoying to walk through.” Hannah kicked at the stuff to prove her point. It wasn’t actively snowing but there was still enough on the ground from the night before that their walk through the woods was more of a trudge. Hannah sighed and kept walking. “Let’s just get this over with okay?”

Daphne hurried to catch up. “It is pretty though. Magical even.”

“You sound like someone who never had snow growing up.” Daphne could practically hear the eye-roll in Hannah’s voice.

Daphne shrugged. “We had snow. Not this much, but we had it.” Her lip curled in a half-smile. “My brother and I had some epic snowball fights.”

Hannah was quiet.

“What about you? Don’t tell me you never—” Daphne cut off, eyebrows pinched together in a frown.

Hannah looked back at her, concerned.

Daphne shook her head and nodded for Hannah to keep walking. “Don’t tell me you never had any winter shenanigans.” She slipped her knife out of its sheath. “Snowball fights, sledding, snow angels…” Daphne brushed against a tree, using the tip of the knife to pull a chunk of bark off, “…you can’t tell me you never had any fun in the snow.” She slid the knife back into the sheath and the piece of bark into her pocket.

Hannah’s shoulders tensed up a little, she looked up toward the sky—though not much of it could be seen through the trees. “Of course I did. But I was the only kid in AEGIS so any fun I had I had alone. Most of my experiences with snow were training-related: fighting in snow, tracking, survival, that sort of thing.”

“Huh.”

Hannah glanced back at her. “What?”

Daphne laughed. “Nothing. I just can’t believe I actually had a more normal childhood than someone.”

Hannah snorted. “It’s not a competition Pen,” she said, using the nickname for Daphne’s last name she had taken to calling her lately.

“No, I know I just—” Daphne stopped again. “Yeah we’re going in circles.”

Hannah stopped too, turning to face Daphne. “What’re you talking about?”

Daphne nodded at the small canine tracks heading off into the woods on their left. “We’ve passed those tracks before.”

“We’re in a forest full of animals Pen, there’re bound to be multiple sets of tracks.”

Daphne shook her head. “No those are the same tracks. Same direction, same animal, same size, even the same gait.”

“Okay, then maybe we’ve crossed the same animal’s path twice.”

“Yeah, I thought that too. Still, something didn’t feel right.” Daphne ran a gloved finger over a bark-less spot on the tree closest to her. “Which is why I marked this tree. Just in case.”

“Daphne, look around! We’re up to our ankles in snow, if we were walking in circles we would’ve crossed our own tracks again.” Hannah gestured toward the unblemished snow covering the forest floor in front of them.

Daphne ran a hand through her hair, knocking her hood off her head in the process. “Yeah and we’ve been walking in a straight line not following a path. I don’t know what to tell you, I just know we’ve passed this tree at least two times.”

Movement up in the tree behind Hannah caught Daphne’s eye. “Don’t look now but there’s a fox in the tree behind you.” The arctic fox’s intelligent golden eyes, locked unflinchingly with Daphne’s, seemed to be filled with laughter.

Hannah lifted a well-groomed eyebrow. “What?” she laughed. “Do foxes even climb trees?”

The fox stood from its perch on the lowest branch of the tree, snow-colored fur fluffing out and tail curling over its back as it stretched, a wide yawn revealing a wicked grin of sharp silver teeth.

“I don’t know. This one did. No, wait don’t look!”

Too late, Hannah was already turning. As soon as Hannah’s eye caught on the branch, the fox leapt up and away. The force of the jump shook the branch, dislodging the snow gathered there. Which fell straight down onto Hannah’s head.

Hannah let out a startled yell, her green eyes wide with shock.

Daphne snorted, biting her tongue to keep from laughing out loud.

“Don’t you dare.”

Daphne couldn’t help it. She cackled, shoulders shaking with uncontrollable laughter as she hunched over, holding her stomach.

Hannah huffed. “It’s not that funny!” She furiously swiped at her head and clothes to rid herself of the icy wet clumps.

“Y-your face!” Daphne could barely catch her breath enough to get the words out.

Hannah glared. “You think this is funny huh.”

Daphne struggled to breathe. “Hilarious.”

Hannah’s lip twitched. “I was pretty shocked.”

“Should’ve seen your face.”

“Oh yeah? Did it look something like this?”

Frigid wetness hit Daphne square in the face, sobering her instantly.

Hannah giggled. “You’re right. That is hilarious.”

Daphne smirked, bending to pick up a clump of snow, shaping it as she stood. “This means war.” She pulled her arm back to throw, only to be hit in the back of the head by a snowball, startling her into dropping her own.

She whirled around to find the fox sitting on a log, washing its face as if completely oblivious.

Hannah about choked on a laugh. “Did the fox—”

The fox lowered its paw and grinned a very un-foxlike grin.

“I don’t think that’s a fox,” Daphne said, taking a step backward, slowly moving her arms behind her back.

The not-fox’s gold eyes glinted. It jumped, quicker than the eye could follow, hit Daphne straight in the chest knocking her over backward into the snow, her arms instinctively going up to catch her attacker. For a second, Daphne found herself staring up into the grinning face of a young girl underneath the hood of a fox pelt. Then, in the wink of a golden eye, the girl was gone.

“You alright?” Hannah stood over her, holding out a hand.

Daphne clasped Hannah’s glove-covered hand with her own bare one, letting Hannah pull her to her feet. “I think we found the Winter Court,” she said.

“Too bad she got away.”

Daphne shrugged and bent over to pick up the glove she had dropped right before the fey jumped her. She could still feel the eternal cold, slippery playfulness and flickering shadows of trickery prickling under her skin, knew the way home like it actually was her home. “Did she?”

Hannah barked out a laugh. “You got a reading? You sly fox!”

Daphne snorted. “You’re terrible.”

Hannah shoved her. “Please, I’m hilarious.”

Daphne hummed. “You keep telling yourself that.” She pulled her glove back on. “Come on, sooner we find the Winter Court the sooner we’ll be drinking hot chocolate in front of the fire.”

Christmas in Boston

Christmas Eve began with me bundled up in front of an Italian bakery at 7:30 in the morning with my mom and aunt, as we stood in line in the twenty-degree Massachusetts air waiting for the bakery to open so we could get some cannolis for the huge family dinner we were having later that night. It was my first Christmas in Nashville and I was spending it in Boston. My Mom, Dad, and I flew up the day before Christmas Eve to stay with my aunt and uncle for the holidays. I’d never been to Massachusetts before and I don’t think I’ve ever been so cold in my entire life; over the ten days we were there, there were times the temperature dropped below zero and I found myself fantasizing about the California sun. I was very glad we spent most of that time curled up in front of the fire watching movies and the Punisher Netflix series.

Still, as dreadful as the cold was, there was something magical about waking up on Christmas morning to snow lazily drifting down onto the winter wonderland that is my aunt and uncle’s backyard. That’s something I’ve never had in California: a white Christmas. I’ve got some vague memories of a Christmas or two spent up in Big Bear with my other aunt and uncle and that uncle’s parents many years ago but while there may have been snow on the ground I don’t think it actually snowed on Christmas day. Of course, spending Christmas somewhere I’ve never been before meant missing a couple of Christmas traditions this year. Stockings and Christmas presents—at least those given between my parents and I—were opened on the Friday before Christmas instead of Christmas morning. There was no homemade coffee cake—a staple in my house for the morning of every major holiday—on Christmas (or New Years) morning but my aunt did make potato casserole—another holiday tradition for my family—for the huge Christmas Eve dinner the night before. Instead of a big ham dinner on Christmas day we had homemade spaghetti with family members from my uncle’s side of the family—whom I had either never met or met when I was too young to remember meeting—and had the big ham dinner—complete with potato casserole and my uncle’s famous Jell-O casserole–with a bunch of that same part of the family on Christmas Eve instead. I missed my cats but did get to curl up with Roger, my aunt and uncle’s pit bull, on the couch a couple of times.

As different as it was from my usual Christmas, I loved getting to have the traditional White Christmas you see in movies and on TV and getting to spend it with family I don’t get to see very often and even meeting some family I’d never met before.