Monday, April 16, 2012

With graduation season almost upon us, a big question for students is: Where do I go from here?
Many parents will ask themselves the same question, along with another: 
"Where did the years go?"
From the perspective of those moms and dads in the bleachers, childhood traveled at warp speed. (Parents in the diaper years may beg to differ, but they'll learn soon enough.)
For our family, the college years are just about a memory. Our nest still sways between empty and full, and happily so. 
I've come to learn though, that when you have pets, your nest is never really empty. (I think that was part of my heart's buffer plan.)
Our "first-born" was a black and white kitten we named Opus (after the penguin from the "Bloom County" comic strip). He stayed with us for 20 years, a furry older sibling for our son and daughter.
Opus left a large hole in our hearts when he left, making room for two more cats and a dog, who joined us during the high school years.
When our last-born went off to college, I was so grateful to have the three of them for company.
I think of Louie, our dog, as an eternal toddler. A Westie mix, he's about the height of a 3-year-old when he stands on his hind legs, paws on windowsill, looking out at the world. There's nothing so heartwarming as coming home and seeing just his eyes and two party-hat ears poking up from the back window. He's always happy to see us.
The cats, being cats, speak a different language of affection -- and disaffection. (Louie, the eternally optimistic dog, still seems to think a swishing cat tail is the same as a wagging dog tail. "She wants to play, right? Right?" Wrong.)
Our cats do like to play. Hunters that they are, their games usually involve stalking, chasing and pouncing. (Louie and April, our tortoise shell cat, face off daily, each taking turns as the chaser and the "chase-ee.")
This morning I found more evidence of their games.
A small collection of plastic Easter eggs had been nestled on a shelf in the living room. (I like to let holidays linger.) This morning the shelf was empty. I found eggs "hiding" all over: under a bookshelf, next to an old corner cabinet, wedged in the sofa.
It's become an annual event, this post-Easter egg hunt.
A bit of childhood preserved, courtesy of our cats.
April with her seasonal "prey."

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