Snow King by Maggie DiGiovanni

June 26, 2013

He ran away from the house behind us to live with our daughter.  A medium-sized tom cat with no markings on his snow white coat, he walked into our hearts and the position of Jaimie’s guardian.

Given the unlikely name of Spot by his three-year-old charge, he suffered through hugs and kisses, as well as her insistence that he lie calmly in her lap while she “bathed” him with a soggy bath cloth.  If she was on her swing, he remained within easy distance of removing any threat.  What he would not do was come inside the house.

After he ran to us several times when his owner had to go out of town, she asked if we wanted him permanently.  Yes, we did!

At summer’s end, I looked up to find four curious eyes of baby possums looking through the sliding glass doors of our den.  When I moved closer, one shied away, while the bigger of the two stared me down a moment longer.

“I wonder where their mother is.”

The next night our visitors came again.  This time, a green pair of eyes joined them.  The possums sat with Spot, peering inside before all of them wandered away.   The cat adopted them that night.

We put an old lounge chair out back, intending it for heavy trash pickup.  Within hours, our cat and his little ones had moved into the chair, via the back flap.  Once the babies were inside, Spot sat on top, once again the guardian.  By autumn’s end, they had been taught all they needed.  The nuzzling between the possums and the   cat sent a pang through me.  Spot rubbed the side of his mouth along their heads and sent them on their way back into the sparse woods.

The winter was harsh for Maryland, with major snowfalls every couple of weeks.  Begging Spot to come inside did no good.  He reveled in the snow, cavorting like a kitten.  He bounced through small drifts, rolled in the soft wetness, and took a bite or two once in awhile.  My professed “cat hater” husband built a small house, complete with light bulb warming system, to protect his nemesis.  The cat showed its appreciation by moving in immediately.

On a rare sunny, warm day, Jainie wanted to play on her swings.  I took her out and returned to the kitchen to wash dishes.  The window above the sink allowed me to keep an eye on her.  As usual, Spot rested near his charge.  Like any good protector, he kept looking all around with special emphasis on the yard next door.

Our neighbor had opted to babysit a German Shepherd, known to have a mean streak.  Chained to a large tree, he posed no problem …until the chain broke.

From the corner of my eye, I saw the dog running toward Jaimie.  Grabbing a broom on the way out to the yard, I screamed at the top of my lungs.  Jamie heard me, stopped swinging but didn’t run to me.

A white streak flew past my daughter, headed for the dog.  Screeching, the cat brought the dog to a halt and made it turn around.  That ten pounds of feline fury chased the dog back into our neighbor’s yard.  Abruptly, the Shepherd stopped, as though it suddenly occurred to him that something was seriously wrong with that picture of cat chasing dog.

I  got Jaimie into the house and returned to help Spot.  The cat had climbed the nearest tree, when the dog caught onto who should be chasing whom.  Our neighbor chained the beast back to the tree and insisted he would never volunteer to keep it again.

The next day, new snow fell.  Spot was in the middle of it with Jaimie.  They rode down a small hill on a big piece of cardboard.  She made snow angels; he rolled beside her.

“For a cat, he’s not bad,” commented my husband.  “Never saw a cat that liked snow so much.  He’s a regular snow king.”

He’s a king alright.  A brave king who saves his lady from the biggest dragons.  I pictured the scene from the day before.  Maybe we’ll rename him Snow King.


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