Animal Tracks: Back to the routine

When I was a small child my mother, my brother and I lived with my grandparents. My grandmother would start gearing up for the holidays sometime in October. Once Thanksgiving and Christmas were over, however, she didn't waste any time in getting back to the normal routine.

Each year a couple of days after Christmas, my grandmother would tell us again that it was bad luck to have your Christmas decorations still up on New Year's Day. Before New Year's Day, we'd have everything taken down, packed up and stored away for the next year.

I'm not overly suspicious but I do try to follow family traditions so on Thursday morning of last week I began taking down the decorations, starting with the Christmas tree.

While I was gently ripping fragile ornaments from the formerly festive tree, I thought I heard something. I stood there for a second and didn't hear it again. I chalked it up to too many years of loud rock n roll and got back to business. As I was wrapping the ornaments in tissue paper and putting them in their box, I heard it again. I still didn't see anything so I just kept working. Finally, as I was unwinding the miles of lights from around the tree, I heard the sound again. This time I looked over and noticed a paw sticking out from under the sofa. I recognized that paw. It was attached to “Alien.” Alien is either one of the cats who lives in our front yard or a real alien creature from another world. I haven't quite figured it out yet. No matter where she came from, on Thursday morning she was hiding under our sofa in the living room.

I sat down on the floor and slowly coaxed her out. She crawled up in my lap and I loved on her a bit before standing up to let her out the front door. Evidently, she didn't want to go back outside. She managed to jump out of my arms and made a beeline back to her spot under the sofa. It took me three more tries and only a few minor scratches before I finally got her out the door.

My grandmother would have been proud. The Christmas decorations were down and packed up for another year before New Year's Day and things around the house were getting back to normal.

The New Year came in quietly for us. Of course, the weather forecasters were practically foaming at the mouth predicting the first winter storm arriving early on Monday morning. Fortunately, weather forecasters are not always 100 percent totally accurate. Unfortunately, this time they were dead on the money.

It isn't that I don't like snow. I do and I always have. I have to admit, though, that I don't enjoy it the way I dd as a kid. It was fun to go out and play in the snow in those days. Now, that snow makes it a little bit of a pain to go out and feed and water the horses, the cats, the raccoons and the other animals who show up for a free meal.

Monday's snow wasn't a huge problem, although it looked like it might be.

When I looked outside early on Monday morning, I heard that hissing sound of an ice storm and I cringed. It looked like we already had a fair amount of ice on the ground and you could see it was sticking to the trees. Those are perfect conditions for power outages.

Within an hour or two, the ice shifted over to big, puffy snowflakes and although it snowed throughout the morning and into the afternoon, snow causes a lot less trouble than ice does.

There was a time when I felt obligated to get dressed, grab my camera and go get typical winter pictures for the paper whenever we'd have snow or ice. Being retired, I have the luxury of feeding the animals and rushing back to dive under the covers and get warm again.

There are times, I admit, when I still miss working for the paper, the feeling of being plugged in and knowing what is happening around the area, feeling like I'm part of everything.

Then there are days like Monday, when I'm perfectly happy to turn over, pull the covers up and just go back to sleep.