Chapter 1: Watershed (excerpt)
Brrrrr, is it ever cold and windy from this high vantage point! All I can remember, really, is somebody took me for a long car ride and when the vehicle finally stopped, I was thrown out of it into a very dark and scary night. I am so thankful that I have excellent night vision because it helped me negotiate my unfamiliar surroundings. The side of the country road had pieces of rock salt which went in between my “20 paws and 22 claws” and I let out a squeak as I attempted to find some soft snow to wash away the sting. Yep, I was born with five toes on each of my paws and two extra claws which are located nicely between my “thumb” and four toes on my front two legs. Do you think THAT is the reason why they left me here? I know I have really big paws, but that’s what makes me unique!
Then, this really LOUD truck went chu-chugging along by where I had been soaking my paws and the bright headlights startled me as I ran away from the roadside into the pitch blackness of the slopping field below. There were rocks and clumps of snow together with prickly bushes and a barbed wire fence. Somehow I negotiated through the midnight maize towards some dried grass and welcoming brush. This seemed like a reasonable spot to take a rest for a bit, or so I thought. All of a sudden, some type of wild animal came out of the blindness of the night running right towards me! I must say my heart skipped quite a few beats as it felt as if it had jumped up into my throat as I sped towards the closest tree I could find. I climbed up as high as I could because I am still very young and don’t weigh very much yet so the very tiny limbs can support me.
Well, do you remember me telling you about how many toes I have? Now I know why God equipped me with such gargantuan paws. For what seemed to be an eternity for me, I held onto those fragile branches atop that big old oak tree. The wind picked up and the tree began to sway in the wind as I trembled and clung even tighter to the tiny branches. Then, the sun began to rise up over the hilltop as the sunlight shed some warmth on my nearly frozen body. Some chickadees flew up to see me as they sang their morning tunes. In different circumstances, I would have been dashing after THEM up the tree, but in my current situation, I was gladdened by their company.
Once the sunshine began to allow me to see my predicament more clearly, I literally wanted to take my one paw and place it up over my eyes in disbelief. What in heaven’s name was I going to do to get myself out of this situation? I had climbed so far up this friendly oak that my only solution would be to attempt to turn around and climb DOWN the tree. That’s about when the hypothermia began to set in. I hadn’t slept all night. I was hungry and dehydrated so I did what any logical person would do in a similar situation – I began to cry. What happened, though, is that I couldn’t stop crying. I’m sure you’ve heard this expression before: HAULT – don’t let yourself get too hungry, too angry, too lonely or too tired. Well, I had reached full-tilt on all four of those topics and then some!
As I cried deliriously, the most amazingly wonderful thing happened! A woman had been walking alongside the road and heard my calls. She climbed over the barbed wire fence and was underneath the tree looking up and talking to me. When I finally took a few deep breaths and subsided my almost hiccup crying reaction I was having, she began walking around the bottom of the oak’s trunk as she attempted to climb up a few branches. Then she motioned for me to jump down to a bigger limb which was quite a caper from my perspective. I just couldn’t let go. She then climbed back down the tree and went on her knees and prayed. Now, these past twenty-four hours have really encompassed the full spectrum of emotions for me, to say the least. Here I was last night being discarded by someone who didn’t appreciate me to this gal who not only tried to climb the tree to get me, but is now praying for me?
That was the “ah, ha” moment for me as I took my “first of many quantum leap of faith” to a lower limb and my enormous claws and paws grabbed onto the tree’s bark firmly. She encouraged me as I knew I would have to jump one more time before she could climb up to reach me. So, I literally closed my eyes when I sprang the second time and landed on the side of the trunk with pieces of the oak’s rough outer layers and small branches falling away. It was then that I truly learned what unconditional love really is. As she reached for me, I felt this amazing calmness come over me because I knew I had been saved.
Enveloped in her comforting and warm embrace, she wrapped her rainbow-hued fluffy yarn scarf around me and held firmly onto my paws else I decide to spring out of her arms. At this point, that was the last thing on my mind! Trembling and exhausted, I kept dozing off on our walk down the road and up the hill to where her home was nestled. As we approached our destination, a neighbor met us and offered a few cat toys, litter box and comforted me as I welcomed her kind words.
When we walked down the driveway to her home, a loud ruckus of several dogheads barking startled me as I almost sprang out of her grasp. Gladly, these friendly but very talkative neighbor’s pets were contained in a large fence surrounding their property. Whew, thank goodness for that! I’m sure they are friendly as they were my older brother’s girlfriends, but just the same, I am a kitten – not a doghead.