There are few things quite as unsettling as being alone in a house late at night, with a terrific storm raging outside, and realize I hear unusual noises that ought not to be. Huh? What was that? Listening more carefully; well, there it is again. Oh dear. Quick analysis: the storm outside is blowing really hard, perhaps one of the kid’s little plastic chairs or buckets is rolling around and smacking the side of the house and scraping along with intermittent thuds, or maybe a wayward tree branch has broken off and is caught between the house and something else, the wind tumbling it and the something else in a creepy scritching sort of way. Nuts! It really is moving. Okay, this could be garden tools, or an upended tomato cage, or anything else my logical mind can think of to quell a rising concern the sounds could be coming from something uninvited and unwelcome.
I never have been one to shy away from danger, and even though common sense dictates it would be more prudent to simply dial my local police department and request an officer come check it out, I am compelled to resolve this matter myself. Besides, I have my trusty watchdog by my side. She and I should be able to put this matter to rest in no time.
I gather up my cell phone and canister of pepper spray, descend the stairs, call faithful dog to accompany me, and open the front door. Stepping outside, dog and I both immediately are hit with sheets of stinging rain, and gusts of wind I know not how strong. I stand listening for ominous sounds, peering into the black of our storm wracked night, not seeing anything except glistening raindrops, which at the moment look and feel more like missiles than drops. Then, it dawns on me, the porch light is on, and if there were something out there, it would see me while I would not be able to see it. Okay, light off. Now, there is nothing visible, except dark, waving pine trees, and a cowering shivering dog who really just wants to go back inside where it is dry and warm. I try to dispatch faithful watchdog to investigate, but she takes three steps off the porch, quickly glances toward the side of the house from which mystery sounds had come, tucks her tail between her legs, and skulks back onto the porch, attempting to reach the front door before I can prevent her from abandoning me completely to whatever is threatening our peaceful night.
It is too windy to continue standing there, the pelting rain is unrelenting, and suddenly realize if I need to use my pepper spray, I am the only one who would be sprayed; the wind is blowing straight into my face, and there would be no one disabled but me. And if this night of fist-clenching unknowns and heart jolting startles had not been sufficient to light up a city block, the cat jumps out of nowhere onto the porch, in full Siamese voiced yowl, and straight into my legs. I am pretty certain I have jumped six feet into the air, and possibly awakened an entire coastal village with my yelp. Faithful watchdog slinks back inside the house, and is watching me from the front window, while scary cat weaves around my legs, still yowling, in what I think is an attempt to encourage me to go inside and call off my vigil. I finally agree with cat and dog, and am confident my strong display of courage and fearlessness has dispelled any nefarious intentions, if there were anyone nearby who had held such notions. Or, it is possible, between the cowardly dog and alarming jumping out of nowhere cat, I have provided such a slap stick display of what life in this house is like, a little amusement sent storm drenched lurker away in a better, more charitable mood.
Back inside, the doors and windows are locked, cat and dog are settled down in dog’s bed, and I have an entire season of my favorite spy show to watch on Netflix, which is fine with me if it takes all night. The Pacific Northwest storm still is raging, but my trusty furry companions are here with me, and apart from a current excess of adrenaline pumping through my limbs, I think this has been a good experience.
It is important to remember, regardless the stage of our journey, things still can go bump in the night, it is smart to be prepared, and one should always know which way the wind is blowing. Finally, it is comforting to have a support system in place when times demand from us that which those we love are happy to share and help us through. Even if they are furry, cowardly, or appear unexpectedly, it is good when those storms come, beating at our doors, shaking the very foundations upon which our lives are built, that we are not alone. Because when we are not alone, we move in, out, and around each others lives with equal measure, and in so doing, weave a fabric of unity and strength, comfort and companionship; creating this beautiful tapestry called family, this beautiful tapestry called love.