The North Wind Dying



Outside, the north wind,
coming and passing,
swelling and dying,
lifts the frozen sand drives it
a-rattle against the lidless windows
and we may
sit stroking the cat stroking the cat
and smiling sleepily, prrrr.
~William Carlos Williams



José is our front porch cat. That is as opposed to our garage cat, our upper barn cat, our lower barn cats and those that come and go on the farm because we’re a hospitable place where food is always on the table.

But he is the king of the farm cats.  No one questions him (usually) and no one occupies his front porch bench without his express permission. His Majesty shows mercy to any who show proper submission, and every once in awhile, that includes the dogs.  He’s trained every pup here over the years.

He is the official front porch farm greeter, rising from his pillowy bench throne to investigate any newcomer up the sidewalk, mewing his cheerful little “chirp” of a meow in welcome.  Then he turns around and returns to his perch.

José also is a performance cat, having been trained in his younger years to ride on a bareback pad on our Haflingers, walk, trot and over jumps (sorry, no pictures).  This once again proved his ability to get any creature, large or small, to submit to his will.

The love of his life is our daughter, Lea.  José  arrived on our farm 13+ years ago from a city home where he had been adopted as a stray of indeterminate age, and was too intimidating to the other resident cats.  José needed his own kingdom and his own queen so he set his eyes on her and decided he was exactly what she needed.  They have had many happy snuggles together over the years whenever she returns home, including only a month ago during the holidays.

The winter weather was brutal over the past month with weeks of bitter northeast wind blowing right over José’s front porch bed.  Usually during northeasters he picks up and moves to another of our farm buildings until the storm is done, and then reclaims his favorite spot when he deems it cozy enough to be worthy of him.

Only this time, when the wind went away, José didn’t return.

I’ve looked, I’ve called, I’ve left goodies out.  But no José. No chirpy meow, no yellow eyed gaze, no black velvet fur to stroke, no rumbly purr to vibrate in my lap.

I fear he has left for warmer quarters far far away from here as the north wind was dying this winter.

I think he was dying too, and somewhere on the farm — I just haven’t found it yet — there is a black coat that he left behind.

He doesn’t need it any more.










11 thoughts on “The North Wind Dying

  1. Oh, I do hope you find him and not just his glossy coat What a truly beautiful cat. We lost our own beloved puss at the end of last year, so know the pain. Thank you for the magnificent photos.


  2. Ohhhh, what an engaging, lovely story about an engaging character–and then my tears flowed when I realized how his journey might have ended–but you had a beautiful way of softening the realization! I’m glad he and Lea had some snuggle time before his leaving.


  3. Lovely writing. Our animals teach us so much .. how to purr with contentment or how to say goodbye. They touch a part of us that is deeper then we know and we never forget them.


  4. I was afraid it was going to end that way, as I read through . . . so sorry, but glad you were able to share such love and memories with such a majestic character! The last photo is so beautiful. My beloved cat of almost 19 years went over the Rainbow Bridge almost a year ago, and I miss her so much. They do take our hearts! Hugs.


  5. So sorry for your loss Emily. We also have a black cat that hides out for periods of time. Just when I think she’s gone (as she is very old), here she comes to sit on the back porch picnic table, or shows up at the barn, all fluffy as though she hadn’t been gone at all. You are probably right about yours going where he doesn’t need his black coat. If he does reappear, please let us know. Hugs,


  6. So sorry for your loss, Emily…what a lovely and eloquent tribute to Jose’. My heart lurched when there was a shift in your prose, and I suddenly realized this delightful story led to the probable reality that he has passed on….and the tears flowed.


  7. Emily,

    Did you ever find your black cat, Jose? We lost our black cat around the same time you lost Jose and are still suffering his loss. We keep hoping he will find his way home. Best, Heather Hejmanowski



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