An Incomparable Earthsprings Moment

By Glenda | June 5, 2009

Mostly I experience, absorb, wonder, and move on. Sometimes I just have to share…

Many of you have been to Earthsprings and know the folks who live here, like Tux the tomcat, for example. Some of you haven’t been to Earthsprings, so let me fill you in.

Several years ago Tux came up out of the woods, a half-grown kitten, starving. It took me two weeks of his crying in the underbrush and my leaving food out, closer to the house each day, before he finally braved Milly Cat (the original pet), OE (the big black lab) and me (the giant human person). OE, (still young and healthy then), after his first startled, instinctive dog reaction (“It moves, chase it!”) became sweet and patient with the starving, ever-squalling kitten, and as Tux grew, Tux came to see OE as his protector, friend, confidant, whatever. Tux went everywhere OE went, right under OE’s feet. He worshipped OE, we could tell. When OE laid down to rest, Tux curled up right next to him or on top of him. If OE rolled over on his back, feet in the air, to sleep that way, Tux rolled over against him and put his head on OE’s tummy and slept too. I never saw anything like it, and, frankly, I don’t know how OE stood it!

But Tux has his own unique split-personality. I had given Tux his name because of his markings; he looks like he’s wearing a tuxedo. And he can be elegant and gentlemanly at times. But, full grown, still carrying a “starvation and victim complex,” and with his top tomcat personality, it’s now clear; he’d never wear a gentlemanly tuxedo; he’s more of a drug war lord or mafia boss type. He might dress up and wear spats, but he’d be carrying a switchblade, a sawed-off shotgun, and other concealed weapons, and he would be watching in every direction at every minute for whatever might threaten or offend. Only OE, and any human person with food in hand, could see Tux’s other side, his gentle boy side.

Therefore, when I got the new puppy, Happy (who looked exactly like OE, and, of course, being a puppy, right away wanted OE’s attention and to chase the cats), Tux was merciless and deadly persistent. You could look at Tux’ face, particularly the slant of his laid back ears, to see how well he liked the idea of a new guy on the turf, and especially one that took any of OE’s attention. Tux swatted and clawed and hissed and terrorized that puppy endlessly. He took every opportunity to harass Happy. Even when I tried to teach the puppy something, using my “No” voice, Tux, the self-appointed enforcer, would come stalking from clear across the yard to attack the puppy, face on. It was awful. OE just shook his head and walked off; the puppy cringed and withdrew. Tux remained furious, contentious; he was obnoxious, really.

Well, when OE finally died, Tux went into such a grief and anxiety state, it was amazing to watch. Anyone who says animals don’t have emotions never had animals around. I felt so sad for Tux then. He just seemed lost. And he got even meaner with the puppy, who was getting bigger by then.

Tux lost weight. Sometimes he would walk over to the spot where the vet had put OE down, where we had buried OE, the last place Tux ever saw OE, and Tux would just walk around and around, meowing softly, looking for his old friend and constant companion. I knew how he felt. Me too.

So. Time passes. Christina took Happy, the puppy, to her house after he knocked me down twice in his exuberance and dug so many holes in the yard we all were in danger of twisted ankles. Chris is being patient while Happy goes through the chewing stage; how she’s been patient is amazing, because, for example, he’s eaten half of her back door off, along with various other objects accidentally left within a two-mile range. She’s been teaching him not to jump on people. She’s been able to discipline him, without Tux around to confuse the issue. She’s been loving him, too, and teaching him about human companionship and commitment. She takes him down to her pond, where he swims happily, all by himself, dog paddling around, ducking under, splashing, obviously ecstatic. Happy is half grown now, and is behaving somewhat better, although one day last week when I was standing in the yard and he was running around full tilt just for the heck of it, he came from behind me and ran, without so much as a pause, right between my legs and kept going, turning around finally only to look at me as if to say, “Wow! Did you see that cool trick, Mom?” Such is his level of energy and the nature of his adventurous, playful spirit.

A few weeks ago, I brought Happy back over here to Earthsprings, since the holes he was digging were less dreadful than those of the armadillos and wild pigs and others who had taken up residence with both dogs gone. He’s as happy to be here as he was at Chris’s, and he has made his way all on his own to the creek to swim there too. I let him bark all night at deer and raccoons and whatever else wanders around in the moonlight outside.

Well, as you would expect, Tux reacted to Happy’s return with all the outrage that could come out of a bereaved tomcat. He let Happy know who was still the boss. Happy dodged, cringed, cried, and kept a safe distance, but true to his name, he was unrelentingly joyous, playful, etc.

As the days passed, I watched Tux and Happy circle each other, conducting drastic wars or delicate negotiations. They seemed to be having their own secret debates that took time, and the trans-species translations mostly escaped me. But I did see Tux following Happy at a distance, though I wasn’t sure if it was with a plan to attack Happy, or to use Happy as a protective shield from overhead hungry hawks, or what. And at times I saw Happy running big circles around Tux, stopping occasionally to do that “downward dog” posture and bark that “Hey, come on, lighten up! Let’s play!” signal.

Which brings us, finally, to “the moment.” Just about twilight two nights ago, a wind came up, a misty rain began, the air turned sort of yellow, and I started to go outside to check the sky for possible tornadoes. But I came up short just inside the front door. For through the glass I could see Happy, lying peacefully there, looking exactly as OE used to do, forelegs stretched out, rear end against the door, chin up, eyes surveying the yard. A lump of emotion, missing OE, caught in my throat, as I stood there, unnoticed by Happy because of the distracting noise the rain was making on the metal roof.

And then, coming up from the right, out of the misty yard, also not noticing me there behind the door, was Tux. “Oh, no,” I thought, “Here we go again! Tux will run him off.”

But instead, very, very slowly Tux stepped, one slow step at a time, up to Happy, who kept very still. Tux stopped and looked Happy over carefully, with Happy looking calmly back at him. Tux apparently made up his mind, took another step, and another, and another, over Happy’s tail, and then over his back legs, then he grazed past Happy’s chest, and then he rubbed right under Happy’s upraised chin, and kept going, his unguarded back to Happy. Then Tux made an even, slow circle, there in the gathering rainy mist at the edge of the small wet porch, and came right back to Happy, who kept such an uncharacteristic, mature stillness, just like OE would have done. And then, as calmly as could be, Tux settled himself right down next to Happy’s belly. Tux stretched out his full tomcat length right next to Happy, his little white paws lying gently against Happy’s leg, and his head right under Happy’s chin. Both of them stayed that way, then, heads together, gazing out calmly at something, a joint vision all their own.

The same trusting postures, the same far-gazing look, the look that I used to see when it was OE and Tux. Now, Happy and Tux.

I don’t have to tell you the waves of emotion that swept through me, or the layers on layers of symbols and meanings that came up for me out of that priceless moment I was lucky enough to observe.

I know. The next day it was back to sparring. Tux swatted Happy this morning for no reason at all that I could see. But, well, there was that moment. And there will be others. Many others. There will.

I just had to share. It is my job to share… That which gives me heart, courage, hope, renewal, the promise of endless possibilities for healing, and peace, and even joy.

Glenda Taylor
Earthsprings, June 2009

5 comments | Add One

  1. Dawn - 06/5/2009 at 12:37 pm

    I’m looking forward to watching Tux and Happy grow old together in the years to come. Tears of joy in my eyes!!

  2. Jean - 06/5/2009 at 2:17 pm

    Thank you for gave such a clear picture in my mind’s eye. How does one open one’s heart again so fully after the pain of loss? How does one trust? I can identify with Tux’s hissing and sparring as he grieves and defends what he sees as his. I also identify with the need to let go; to recognize in another the acceptance and stillness offered; to acknowledge that place and lie down with it. Being on constant guard is exhausting, but to surrender is to risk, to open oneself to the possibility of more pain…more joy for sure…but also more pain. It is an incredibly brave thing to do.

  3. Steve - 06/5/2009 at 4:48 pm

    A big deep hug to you Glenda, for sharing this most wonderful tale of tails. It’s one that I ‘ll cherish.

  4. LBear - 06/5/2009 at 5:01 pm

    you are such an amazing writer ~ probably because you are such an amazing person. i love to ‘read’ you. this piece brings many, many emotions to my heart [as well as tears to my eyes]. i too miss OE muchly…but oh what a lesson, as Jean says, in trust and real bravery. i think the ‘moment’ you were honored to see was the embodiment of grace, compassion and peace. gratitude for letting us share.

  5. Karen T - 06/15/2009 at 8:49 pm

    What a beautiful story. Thank you for sharing this with us Glenda.

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