There are a lot of life essentials in this world. Though some people would limit essentials to air, food, water & shelter, I believe there’s more to life than survival. For instance, there’s all the wildlife that has a habit of showing up about feeding time. Critters aren’t exactly essential to human existence except perhaps as a food source, but then again, they do know how to liven up a place. We inherited a puppy that literally walked in the door under my daughter’s feet (my daughter was small at the time and thought she was being chased). We also found a kitten in one of the hen’s nesting boxes. What the hens thought about that, I’ll never know. We get eggs from the hens. We get honey from the bees. But the dogs and cats have also given us something. Each one of them has a personality, they follow us down the road for walks and let us know if someone new is in the area. We have also been blessed with rabbits, squirrels, possums (they have worked out a deal with the cats – don’t ask), raccoons (they haven’t worked out a deal with the dogs – you don’t want to know) and more kinds of scurrying, squiggling, flying things than I can, or would ever want, to count.
So last year, when the winter got so bad, I became afraid the dogs & cats might freeze, and they seemed to be thinking the same thing, they all made a truce and moved up onto the porch and lived together in the kids’ play house. I got them straw to make it a little warmer. They lived in eloquent harmony, and we were grateful. This summer the kids and I are thinking ahead and working on making a better shelter for them. Using scrap wood, the kids (not the dogs and cats – though I’m sure they’d love to help) are practicing their hammering and sawing skills and a couple children are even going to paint the finished product. This activity doesn’t really deserve a high priority spot on my overburdened to-do list. But knowing how much the animals add to our little family, it seems a smart move. Even the cats appear to approve and frankly its hard to get cats to approve of anything. Of course, they know that when the rains, wind, and eventually snow roars through, they and the dogs will once again put all animosity aside and snuggle down together. Funny how they do that.
Story time is another one of those things that takes time and effort, money to buy the books and care in reading aloud, but letting your imagination run wild in a secret garden, over foreign lands and even distant planets, has a way of refreshing the soul. After being a million miles away, I can cook dinner with a renewed spirit and the kids can return to their lessons again.
Fixing the roof was not something I really wanted to tackle this summer, but then I think about how it feels when water drips through the ceiling and I realize the old saying, “A stitch in time…” Yeah, fix-it jobs cost, but they are a part of stewardship, just like a kind word at the right moment can work wonders for a relationship. I am not a materialistic person generally speaking, but I live in a material world. The house may not feel neglected, but I feel neglected when I neglect my little home for there is something in the act of taking care that makes us more decent people.
So, in the end, non-essentials become rather essential in their own way. Just don’t tell the cats.