A Place Called Home

The Townsend Tunnel mid-October 
We drove north on what my family endears the Townsend Tunnel. It seemed overnight Jack Frost disrobed the oaks and maples.
“Just like that, another summer behind us,” I said. “It’s a long time before we see the green tunnel again.”
We focused on the bare and drizzly landscape, one of many signs leading us into the ice and snowy season. Surprisingly, the thought didn’t run a shiver through me.
Almost twenty-nine years driving and walking these washboard roads, I’ve become fond of them. I know where sinkholes wait, and what sleet means when driving up Townsend’s steep incline.
“Let’s buy cross-country skis,” I suggested.
“Well, of all Monet’s paintings at the DIA’s exhibit today, the winter scene was your favorite.”
He offered his wry smile. End of subject.
We met our carpenter in the garage, his hands scoring a plank of wood for a long overdue home improvement project.
“It’s cold in here,” I said. “Would you like a hot cup of tea or coffee? I’m putting the kettle on.”
He grinned. “Coffee, please. Two teaspoons sugar.”
Later, after I’d warmed up with a cup of Earl Gray, I stepped into the garage to see his progress.
“I just saw a mouse!” he exclaimed and pointed his pencil to the back door. “It ran through there, across the floor, and into the hole by the step.”
Another sign of winter.  Time to set traps.
“They’re coming in for shelter. Like Mel, our cat Mo is retired,” I explained.
“You guys like cats, don’t you?”
“Well, I prefer dogs, but, as you see, we need a mouser. However, Mel’s too attached to Mo to bring another cat into the house.“   
Since Mel’s retirement eleven months ago, he and our former neighborhood Alpha cat have become thicker than thieves. When they awaken from their siesta in the basement, Mel walks downhill to the henhouse. Mo follows. This of course will cease when the snow flies.
Winter’s tough on Mo. He’s in and out of the door throughout the day, impatient for his cozy sunny spots in the gardens. An uncanny timekeeper, he knows our dinner hour to the minute. Mel’s left many a steamy plate of spaghetti and bowl of chicken soup to feed our feline.
I’m spared this inconvenience. Mo will not eat from a dish I set before him. On the downside, our dear pet refuses to curl up at my feet on long, dark nights when the arctic wind blows down upon our abode.

Dear Reader, I envy friends who know the luxurious, warm company of a lap cat. Rather, I’ll recline my reading chair, throw my afghan over my feet, and view the frozen landscape outside my window.
And just like that, one day while sitting at my desk or standing at the kitchen sink, I’ll spy my first robin. Then walking down Townsend road, buds will appear on the trees. Another winter season will be behind us.
All this wonder in the place we call home.