When you live in the country, rodent control is a necessity, and cats necessarily do their part. Linus is a sort of grandfather cat. He teaches the newcomers, usually youngsters, about the ways of life, and he sets a good example of how to behave in general, for those who listen. Linus arrived here in 2017, a heavy-bodied, muscular cat who moved like heavy machinery, who could surprise you with a sudden burst of agility and speed. Rodent patrol was always a part of his business, but unfortunately, he had a broader palate which included songbirds. Since bird-feeding stations become cat-feeding stations, we quit having bird-feeders a long time ago, but I miss feeding the birds. I don’t miss finding as many colorful feathers and remains.

This morning, a lovely Saturday morning two days after our first frost and with a temperature suited to Newfoundland joy, I took Banner outside to take care of her morning business. There was Linus, following a mouse: across the yard, down the drive, back to the south yard, across the south yard. He wasn’t “giving chase”. He was stoically walking behind this poor creature who had sensed his doom. The mouse was running, but Linus was walking. He hasn’t been up to the same performance level he had when he was younger. Then there was Banner, following Linus by several feet and watching closely. Banner still has bouts of excitement, mainly when the weather turns cool, and if she can’t joust a cat into action with a nose thrust, she may “accidentally” step on one to escalate some excitement. She intends no harm, but loves the chase. Then she gets the talk: Banner, he is much smaller than you. When you step on him, you hurt him. Don’t hurt the cats. I don’t know how much of the English language she assembles, but she understand the concept and the tone. Her comprehension does surprise me at times, like a couple of days ago when she was reacting tot he vacuum cleaner and I casually said that she should go wait in the bedroom, and she did that immediately. Perhaps part of my surprise was that she needed no additional convincing.

She continued to her spot, where she took care of business, then returned to observe the interactions. Finally, Linus laid down after this rodent of predetermined fate reached a point of fatigue, and I called Banner to come inside. Newfs have a high level of empathy, and she gets in hot water when she makes a cat scream. This would only be confusing. As she began to walk away, she turned quickly and watched again. The mouse must have squealed. I called again, and this sequence repeated a few more times. Then my light bulb turned on: Good girls get treats! I rattled the cookie jar a bit to be sure I had diverted her attention, then she promptly came inside.

There are a number of National Geographic moments here on the farm, some more dramatic, some simple and charming. Last night, the full moon crept above the creek in the valley. Earlier in the week in a garden planter, a collection of three types of bees and wasps were feeding on the flower nectar of the spearmint plants, each type black with a yellow band around their abdomens. One day, the walnut tree was losing its leaves in a swirling breeze, a steady stream of bright yellow confetti swirling in wafts toward the creek. A squirrel on the ground below was collecting nuts for winter storage. For the past two mornings, a large wolf spider has been taking daytime refuge in the corner of the bathroom linen closet. There are many little encounters with nature on a daily basis. Each creature is trying to survive, using the resources available.

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