Signs of Early Spring
by Holly Day
She knelt in the middle of the forest, soft kitten, arms outstretched, face upturned, smiling blank as though she had been waiting for us. I chipped away the layer of ice between her pale, poisoned skin and the hard earth, careful not to damage her flesh. The sun could not have been brighter that day. Kitten-soft flesh pressed against mine as we placed her, blank, in the back of the pickup, padding the bed with extra sweaters and blankets, tucking Mama’s afghan around her poisoned shoulders and under her neck. The road was rough, so I drove extra slow to prevent the kitten girl from bumping about.
She looked so blank in her frozen state, the ice crystals glinting like diamonds against her poisoned flesh. We would have never guessed she was still alive. The fingers started moving first, one day, when kitten-soft flesh began warming with sun. She went from blank to frightened, poor child, in front of our house for the whole winter, arms stretched in supplication, poisoned wings spread wide in a rainbow arc behind her.
The spring came and woke her, one day, took the kitten purr “welcome, stranger” smile from her blank ivory face, replaced it with wonder, fright, regret.
There were so few Canada geese hatchlings this year; nests repeatedly flooded and frozen by the inclement weather. I sat expectant on the little wooden dock behind my house, a brown paper bag of popcorn sitting next to me, a pitiful handful of fuzzy goslings swimming to meet me. It made me so sad there were so few baby cottontails this year that survived; most were buried deep in burrows flooded out by the rains.
I went out searching for them, night after night but instead of the hundreds of tiny pointed ears that had greeted me in summers before, there were only a dozen or so scared-acting rabbits that disappeared as soon as I got to the park. I don’t know why I thought I’d be any different than any other mother in the grand scheme of things. I had hoped and prayed for too much, I think, only to lose my unborn with the first summer storms.
Copyright © 2009 by Holly Day