By all accounts yesterday was an odd day. It started poorly with a dream that was terrifying and jarred me awake. I found myself, at age 40, in a full courseload of first year classes: Philosophy, English, some kind of science, Psychology and the dreaded Calculus. In my dream I was in the advisor’s office very upset and stressed because I had not realized I was registered in any of the courses and it was now November, too late to withdraw and I was failing all subjects. I figured I could still pull of a decent mark in all of them except … Calculus. My main concern was how failing all these courses was going to impact on my job hunt as a new PhD. A very odd dream, indeed
After I woke and drank my lemon water (liver detox this week … perhaps that could explain the strange dreams) and then started my morning exercise (yes, I have abandoned the “I would workout but I might spill my drink” mentality and have stuck religiously to my morning regime for 3 weeks now – I’ve lost zero pounds but I’m sure my heart is healthy and one day I may be able to run again …). Part of living in the Okanagan is the ability to have a workout on my deck – I had my teenage son help me move the exercise bike and my weights out there and it is beautiful at 5:30 in the morning. Of course, I do realize that actually hopping on my mountain bike and going for a real ride would be more beautiful but that bike needs a tune-up and no one has given it one yet despite my whining about it for 2 months (I wonder where that fit and fearless woman who used to inhabit this body and lead mountain bike club at the elementary school has disappeared to?? She could tune up a bike in less than an hour.)
Once I was plugged in and spinning I began to enjoy the view off the deck. That’s when a very small black cat leapt from the cedar hedge below. Oh, I knew that move. I’d seen it a million times on the farm. I watched, curious, as the cat took one slight pause, crouched close to the gravel and then nimbly flew into my peony bush and disappeared from sight. Birds flew for cover and then out of peonies waddled two quails – the parents, of course. I’d seen them bobbing their silly head and waddling around in the evening as their flock of children slowly diminished from ten to four to … it would appear they only had one left now. They wandered around nervously bobbing their heads, turning anxious circles outside the bush. The distress was palatable. One darted to the bush then dashed back, then the other did.
And there was something in the helplessness of those quail parents as they circled and watched, refusing to run away but unable to do more than watch whatever horror was unfolding in the bushes. It pierced me for a moment and I felt such pain for those little parents. Suddenly I was running down the stairs and across the gravel, two barking labradors with me. The cat must have been feasting, it didn’t run out of the bush even with the dogs barking. I skidding to a stop in front of the bush, the gravel flying into the darkness beneath and the cat finally darted out, leaving its spoils behind.
I didn’t look to see what had happened in the green dusk beneath the bush. I just turned and walked back to my deck. There was a time, living on the farm, that such a happening would not have upset me. It was what cats did. Logically I understood this but inside I felt sick. Watching those birds helpless to save their children – I felt an odd kinship with the quail parents. Unable to do more than watch …